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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia has slashed the price of the 2011 Toyota Prius by up to $7510 as a result of staggering sales and increased competition in the compact hybrid segment.

According to Toyota Australia’s website, the price of the entry-level Prius model has been cut from $39,900 to $34,990 – a total saving of $4910 – while the top-spec i-Tech model is now $7510 cheaper – down from $53,500 to $45,990. The specification levels of both vehicles are unchanged.

The new pricing makes the base model Prius $2000 less expensive than the Toyota Hybrid Camry, which starts at $36,990. It is also $5000 less expensive than the $39,990 Hybrid Camry Luxury model, which used to be a direct competitor from a price perspective.

The price reduction has been heavily influenced by the arrival of the Lexus CT 200h, which uses a similar powertrain set-up to the Prius. The CT 200h was launched around a week and a half ago with prices similar to the Prius – $39,990 for the entry-level Prestige and $55,990 for the top-spec Sports Luxury.

The price adjustment will also make the Prius more competitive with the Honda Insight, which was launched late last year in two model specifications: the $29,990 VTi and $33,490 VTi-L. The entry-level Prius is now just $500 more expensive than the Honda Civic Hybrid.

Toyota Australia had no choice but to cut the price of the Prius, with sales steadily declining over the past 18 months.

In the first quarter of 2011, Toyota Australia sold 167 Prius vehicles, down from 460 during the same period in 2010. The less expensive Honda Insight has been more popular this year, with 176 delivered in the first three months of 2011.

Last year, Toyota sold 1611 Prii over 12 months, 47 percent below the 3040 sales figure in 2009.

The third-generation Prius went on sale in Australia in mid-2009. Before its launch, second-generation Prius sales were significantly stronger than today’s levels. In 2008, Toyota Australia sold a record 3413 Prius vehicles, up from 3176 in 2007.

Interestingly, CarAdvice contacted Toyota Australia about the adjustments to Prius pricing but a spokesman said there was no official word on any changes. We will keep you posted on any further developments, including whether Toyota Australia plans to offer rebates to customers who have recently purchased a Prius at the higher price.




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