Plug-in Prius Deposits Refunded

Well, that was a quick response, you might say. Less than a month after a dealer starting taking deposits for delivery of plug-in hybrid Priuses, that dealer is now returning them to the customers. What is clear is that Toyota clamped down on the plan, which the dealer—Magnussen’s Toyota of Palo Alto, Calif.—said was simply a way of responding to customers who wanted to make sure they were first in line for the promised plug-ins. Twenty-five customers had sent in $500 a piece to have a shot at the future Prius.

The problem is that Toyota has not announced any retail timetable for sale of the plug-ins. Irv Miller, Toyota’s Group Vice President, Corporate Communications, praised the dealer for “doing what we’ve always encouraged our dealers to do… to listen carefully to their customers and try to meet their needs,” and for deciding to return the deposits. While promising to bring the plug-ins to the retail market as soon as possible, Miller added that “It just may not happen as quickly as we’d all like it to happen.” Toyota has promised only to have several hundred plug-in Priuses in fleet operations for testing by the end of 2009.

Felix Kramer of CalCars, a plug-in hybrid advocacy group that had trumpeted the deposit program, responded to Toyota’s move by imploring the company to “expand its limited fleet evaluation program planned for 2009 into a larger demonstration program that makes cars available to early adopters and more corporate and public fleets.”

The plug-in Prius may be coming, but it looks like it will arrive based on Toyota’s internal timetable, not the whim of eager customers or dealers.

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  • Shines

    Well good for Toyota. What was the dealer doing with the money anyway? Investing it? (right…) I’m sure the dealer will keep the names and numbers to call when real plug ins come in.

  • Bryce

    This thing won’t be to market for a while. Just listen to what their company president has said. Even when it does come, it won’t be revolutionary, just an up batteried hybrid, not an actual electric or extended range electric car. I would say get a city zenn or a Volt. (I want to see what car they put the eestor drive in to. I am looking forward to it.)

  • David

    I applaud Toyota for this. They want to TEST the cars to see how well they perform and, presumably, fix any problems that crop up.

    I’d rather have a working car than, say, a situation like GM’s notorious “X-car” program (Chevy Citation, et al)

  • steved28

    As a current owner of a car which incorporates much of the Toyota synergy drive, I have the utmost confidence that they will bring something to market that:

    A. works well
    B. Is conservatively “over” engineered
    C. Will deliver on what is promised

    If it is a “batteried up hybrid”, so be it. That is exactly what is needed at this point in the market to keep forward momentum and keep these cars in an affordable range.

  • Willow

    Invest? So they can lose their money?

  • radiocycle

    I just got on a PHEV list here on the central coast. They are still taking deposits (as of 09/06/08) where I live so just because Magnussen stopped doesn’t mean all dealers have. We’ll be one of the first to plug in when they arrive!

  • sue jones

    Toyota hasn’t let me down with quality yet- I had one of the earliest Prius’ in the USA.

    But they are dragging their feet on the Plug in option. I guess I might as well go ahead and get Luscious Garage to install a Hymotion Plugin kit in the old Prius. But I’m happy to put $500 on the table for Toyota to come and get it when they choose to make the car America needs. I’ve been wanting a plug in hybrid since Popular Science explained it in 1976… And I hate sending money to Al Quaeda sympathizers by buying gas.

  • thomatt12

    Good for Toyota. But I believe it would be much better if they could come up with an electric Prius rather than just a plug-in type. I believe that an electric is better in saving up fuel as compared to hypermiling our hybrid cars.