Dealership Accepts Hopeful Deposits for Plug-in Prius

Magnussen’s Toyota of Palo Alto, a Northern California Toyota dealer, took the bold step of starting to take $500 deposits for 2010 plug-in Priuses—even before a grid-capable Prius has been announced as an official product. The dealer’s spokesperson told, a consumer information website, that the dealership collected 25 deposits in the first two weeks. He also admitted the dealership had no inside knowledge when—or even if—the plug-in cars would be available to consumers.

Toyota so far has committed only to producing about 400 plug-in hybrid Priuses for fleet evaluation around 2010, while giving some indications that the cars will come sooner rather than later. By offering Priuses with additional battery storage capability, and the ability to put energy into those batteries via household electricity, Toyota could dramatically increase the fuel economy of the vehicle, which is already the most efficient car available on the mainstream market today.

Eric Doebert, business development manager for Magnussen’s, said, “There is no official word that we have as a dealer regarding exactly what is going to happen. We’ve heard different things, but nothing concrete. However, we are very confident that we’ll have retail units in 2010.” Doebert said his dealership generally doesn’t accept deposits so far in advance, but “so many people have expressed a sincere interest in getting the car” that the dealer decided it was time to start taking deposits. “It makes sense that people should get in line now in order to have a shot of even taking delivery in the first year that the vehicle is available,” he said.

The current total number of plug-in hybrids on American roads is approximately one hundred—all of which resulted from conversions of standard no-plug hybrids into plug-in vehicles by small companies, advocacy groups, or manufacturers running test programs. In June, six Toyota dealerships throughout the country broke ranks with Toyota and announced services for Prius aftermarket conversions using battery and control systems provided by A123Systems’ Hymotion.

Jack Fitzgerald, president of the Fitzgerald Auto Malls—one of the dealerships offering conversion services—said he would not be accepting advance deposits for factory-made plug-in Priuses. Fitzgerald wants to know the consumer price and introductory sales date before taking this step. His cautious approach does not reduce his enthusiasm for the technology. The company, which operates Toyota dealerships in Maryland, Florida, and Pennsylvania, has sold a half dozen plug-in hybrid conversions. Fitzgerald believes, as he told, that the “plug-in hybrid is one of the most important long-term solutions” to our country’s dependence on foreign oil.

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  • Forrest

    I wish toyota and every other company would make focus their attention on making hybrid and hybrid-like vehicles. I know it is a new model where a lot can go wrong, but why only 400, Toyota? It would be nice to be able to get a car like this in 2010 without having to fight for it, or deal with greedy car dealers trying to get rich.

  • Mr. Nobody

    Any person putting money down for vaporware is just silly… or has too much money…

  • steved28

    Toyota put a stop to this today.

  • radiocycle

    Yes, dealers no longer accept deposits but, at least at San Luis Obispo Toyota, they have a list of folks who intend to buy a PHEV as soon as delivered. Magnussen may still be taking names as well.

  • radiocycle

    I take that back… I did get on the SLO of Toyota deposit list. So not ALL dealers have stopped taking deposits. I can’t wait to plug in!