In July, U.S. Toyota dealers didn’t have enough Prius models in stock to last two days, and many were charging thousands of dollars above sticker price for the few they had.
Today there are about 80 days’ worth on hand, and dealers are working much harder — even with the help of $500 factory rebates — to move the egg-shaped gas-savers off lots from Santa Monica to Miami.
…Yet automakers believe they have little choice but to make more hybrids. Though car buyers are losing interest, politicians are pushing them as key to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and limiting the global-warming gases that cars emit into the atmosphere.
In January, President Obama called on the industry to “thrive by building the cars of tomorrow” and prepare for federal and state regulations that could push average fuel economy above 40 miles per gallon by 2020.
“The automakers are in the situation of needing to pacify politicians that are in the position to bail them out with expensive fuel-efficient cars,” said Rebecca Lindland, auto analyst with IHS Global Insight. “But shouldn’t it be more about satisfying the needs of the American consumer?”