Toyota Prices Plug-in Prius to Sell, Unlike Caddy ELR

Toyota is only changing one thing for the 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, but it’s probably the most important thing: the price will be cut.

Next year’s base-level Prius Plug-in model will retail for $2,000 less than the 2013 model. It will now start at just $29,990 before government incentives. The more feature-loaded Advanced model will get a $4,000 price cut, to $34,905. After a $2,500 federal tax credit, prices for the car will start at $27,490—with an even lower entry-level price in states with plug-in vehicle incentives.

The model offers drivers the ability to drive purely on cheap electricity for about 11 miles, after which it reverts to a very efficient 50-mpg gas-powered hybrid. In September, the Prius Plug-in was the third best-selling plug-in vehicle in North America for 2013, with a 14 percent share of the plug-in market.

Sales of the plug-in version of the Prius are minor compared to the other three no-plug flavor of Prii—the liftback, Prius C compact, and Prius V wagon.

Since releasing the plug-in Prius last year, Toyota has not been able to overtake the Chevy Volt in its dominance of the plug-in hybrid market. With the new discount, the Prius Plug-in’s popularity should be on the rise—as its price is now within a few thousand dollars of a standard Prius.

While Toyota seems determined to build demand for its plug-ins, General Motors (the maker of the Chevy Volt) this week announced pricing for its Cadillac ELR luxury plug-in hybrid. The 2014 Cadillac ELR will start at a hefty $75,995, nearly $42,000 more than the Chevy Volt, the car that provides its technical underpinnings. Besides a somewhat more powerful motor, the ELR is be nearly identical to the Volt under the hood, and will even get a somewhat lower electric range. The ELR does offer a striking visual design and a number of desirable luxury features—such as adaptive cruise control and climate-controlled cup holders.

General Motors said it planned the ELR as a limited release—not intending to match the Volt in popularity—but at almost $76,000, the car might have a hard time winning over many fans. The popular Tesla Model S, a critically acclaimed all-electric luxury sedan, is offered at $70,000 for the 60-kWh version that provides more than 200 miles of range. The Model S boasts better performance, a free and growing nationwide fast-charging network, and the chance to never pay for gas again. The ELR, on the other hand, offers just 35 miles of electric range, after which it reverts to working like a hybrid. Still, many shoppers believe the ability to quickly refuel at a gas station when necessary provides a major advantage over pure electric cars that can take hours to fully recharge.

The takeaway from the Toyota and Chevy announcements speaks volumes about their respective goals for their plug-in hybrid vehicles. Toyota priced its Prius Plug-in to sell, while Cadillac appears content to use its offering as a luxury “halo car,” a vehicle that grabs attention and gets curious shoppers into dealerships. And if those buyers decide to drive a different vehicle off the lot, that’s okay.

Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.

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