Prius sales plummet in U.S. when gas is cheap

Source: By Sean McLain, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2016

While Toyota Motor Corp.’s signature Prius is topping sales charts in its home country of Japan, sales in the United States have slumped significantly due to low gas prices.

Sales of the electric-gasoline hybrid, marketed as environmentally friendly, were down 26 percent in 2016 through August.

The newest version of the car gets 54 mpg, making it the most fuel-efficient Prius yet.

But with gas prices low, U.S. car owners are becoming more likely to trade in their hybrids for SUVs.

Brendan Harrington, president of California’s Longo Toyota, the country’s largest Toyota dealership by volume, said the fall in sales is “not because of the car.”

“There is a direct correlation in the price of gasoline and the interest of consumers in hybrids,” said Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association. “When gas was at $4, the Prius was No. 1. Gas is at $2.50”