Toyota’s Lentz: Unconcerned About Low Gas Prices

When gas prices spiked above $4 last summer, Toyota couldn’t keep up with demand for the gas-electric Prius. When the company begins selling the third-generation 2010 Toyota Prius in a few weeks, the price will be about half the level of last year’s peak. That could make it difficult for Toyota to sell the new 50-mpg model, especially considering new hybrid competition from Ford’s Fusion Hybrid and the 2010 Honda Insight.

Does this worry Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA? That’s what we asked him last month in Detroit. See our exclusive video interview.

Interview with Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA. Jan. 12, 2009.


  • Dick Goesinya

    Mr. Lentz knows that gas will go to $10.00 a gallon by 2012 as oil will climb to $250.00 a barrel. Then everyone will ditch there cars and buy 3rd Generation Priuses for $30000 -$40000 a piece. GM and Chyrsler will be out of business and the Chevy Volt will be only a public relations ploy to get more money from the Obama people.

    I’ll just keep driving my 2004 Prius with 102000 miles.

    Soon Honda and Toyota will be the only companies that exist.

  • cindy hillendale

    The PRius is an unsafe tinfoil car.

    I have friends who have them and they cant take a hit from anytihng. They will fold up.

    Sure they are efficient but unsafe.

  • David

    Do you honestly believe that? Explain to me how oil is supposed to go to $250 when not even going to $150 caused a worldwide recession that caused the price to plunge to $40 in just a few months.

    How is oil supposed to stay at $250 when alternatives that cost the equivalent of $70/bbl are out there? Take a look at Wired magazine’s article from December 2006 about why high oil prices are good for us. (Hint: They encourage production of domestic alternatives that are abundant but not economical at $40/bbl)

  • Tim DH

    I’ll let David correct Dick and I’ll try to correct Cindy.

    Cindy, you sound like some very misinformed friends of mine who drive large vehicles because they think they are safer. I drive 22 miles to work on pavement that at times is 100% snow and ice covered and the most of the time if there is a vehicle in the ditch it will be some SUV. Many times upside down. I’ll take a small car any day over a huge inefficient behemoth that handles like an 18 wheeler. (sorry if I offended any truck drivers)

    We have to break free from the misguided mentality that big vehicles are safer. Either that or we have to carve out some funds from the stimulus package to teach SUV drivers how to drive. (I’m kidding or course – we should not have to take it out of the stimulus rather, if SUV drivers can afford gas they can afford a driving course.)

    I look forward to the day were more of us drive vehicles that are more efficient and for the foreseeable future these vehicles will probably be lighter and smaller that what we have grown accustomed to. Get used to it. We need to ween ourselves off of foreign oil and the sooner the better. Let’s not slow down this goal by using lame excuses.

  • eddie

    Toyota, while not perfect among automakers, does seem to have track record at being more than a “FedEx run company”. Rather than look at which way the wind is blowing today, they look into the future and make long-term investments. I doubt oil prices are going to get as high as some have argued, especially given the revelations that Wall Street companies were buying large blocks of oil to drive up the prices (see 60 Minutes story on this). But, oil prices are only headed one direction in the long-term…UP.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    Dick Goesinya, under the HybridCARS article “Coming: Cheap Chinese Cars at Costco?”, published February 7, 2009, you stated, “Nobody will buy chinese cars for $5500.00. They will not be the quality of a Honda or Toyota. Chrysler will be gone in a year as well as GM in 1-2 years, Ford may make it. Plus everyone is keeping their cars. They will run them into the ground, plus we will run out of gas by 2020 and gas will be $10.00 per gallon by 2012, thanks to Obamanomics.” And here you are again stating, “Mr. Lentz knows that gas will go to $10.00 a gallon by 2012 …” and no where in the interview does he state this. You were asked twice in the “comments” of that previous article to provide all the facts, data, and figures that support your point of view. You still have yet to provide anyone with that information. Please, Dick Goesinya, provide all of us unenlightened people with all the facts, data, and figures that support your point of view. Or maybe you do not have any facts, data, and figures that support your point of view?

  • Lost Prius to wife

    cindy hillendale, are you related to the vericona hillendale found in the “comments” of the HybridCARS article “2010 Toyota Prius Breaks 50 MPG”? She was paying $35K+ for a car that should only cost ~$30K.

    You state that the Prius, “They will fold up” in an accident. You are absolutely right. I seriously doubt there is a car being produced today that is not designed with “crush zones”. This is a design that protects the passengers, not the car. Of course, maybe you could get someone to engineer a car that protects the car more and lets the passengers bounce around in the interior until they are seriously injured or dead.

    You also state, “Sure they are efficient but unsafe.” Now you have called our government crash test flawed or biased. Please provide us with all the data, facts, and figures that prove your point. I really do not understand how you were able to “find” the information on this one that the press missed. I would think the press would have a “heyday” with the “information” that a foreign country was not only injuring and killing off their fellow citizens, but injuring and killing American citizens also.

    We are all waiting to hear from you.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    eddie, I think your statement, “Rather than look at which way the wind is blowing today, they look into the future and make long-term investments.” is an accurate statement about Toyota, especially in light of Mr. Lentz’s comments. If anyone looks far enough into the future, one can easily see that an “XXX” finite amount of oil will eventually run out, no matter how low the use. Until then, using the least amount of that finite oil, until other sources and supplies of alternative energy can be properly developed, only makes sense.

  • NHTSA

    @ Cindy:

    Cars that have parts that fold up on impact keep their soft, pink centers from folding up instead. Cars that have parts that do not fold up on impact let their soft, pink centers fold up instead. As a soft, pink thing, you might prefer to stay unfolded up.

    It’s called compression or crumple zones for increased safety. Look it up.

  • Anonymous

    whatever

  • Fred Linn

    Dick Goesinya——-” Mr. Lentz knows that gas will go to $10.00 a gallon by 2012 as oil will climb to $250.00 a barrel.”——–

    Lost Prius to Wife——–” Please, Dick Goesinya, provide all of us unenlightened people with all the facts, data, and figures that support your point of view. Or maybe you do not have any facts, data, and figures that support your point of view?”———-

    Well, the Department of Defense takes the same view as Dick, however, they expect the timetable to come around 2015. Increasing demand and prices for decreasing supplies of resources is a basic assumption for DoD strategic planning. (not only oil, also food, raw materials, and most especially WATER) DoD has several programs in progress to convert the Navy and Air Force to biofuels. The Navy is in the process producing biodiesel with Solazyme—field tests and procedure development is taking place now, and a full production plant is under construction now in Pennsylvania. The Air Force is working with the Fischer-Tropsch process at Malstrom AFB MT.

    eddie——”…… I doubt oil prices are going to get as high as some have argued, especially given the revelations that Wall Street companies were buying large blocks of oil to drive up the prices (see 60 Minutes story on this).”————–

    And what is there to stop another round of speculation? Nothing.

    eddie——-” But, oil prices are only headed one direction in the long-term…UP.”————–

    Yup. The only question is how far and how fast.

    Personally, I think we need to be ready for another very sudden and very large increase.