Toyota New Zealand has announced a strategy to increase the number of plug-in hybrids sold here with the introduction of second-hand Prius hatchbacks.
The company has imported up to 40 Prius plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) as a trial for the New Zealand market, as the company answers customer demand, said Toyota NZ’s general manager of sales, Steve Pragnell.
The announcement was made at the media launch of the Corolla hybrid at Manawatu’s Manfeild track.
The third-generation Prius PHEVs were sourced from agents and dealerships in Japan and sent to Toyota NZ’s Thames plant where the products were specced for the New Zealand market.
To be sold under the Signature Class brand, the used Prius PHEVs will come with a five-year warranty including the battery, locally fitted audio with reversing camera, the dash converted from Japanese to English, with a retail price of around $35,000-$40,000.
All of the imports were up to three years old, with less than 25,000km on the clock.
Toyota NZ reckons it may have underestimated the demand for the Signature Class Prius PHEV, with the company’s managing director, Alastair Davis, saying a business owner he spoke to at a dinner recently was interesting in buying 40 of them.
Toyota NZ was also keen on Prius Prime, the company’s pure EV that is to be launched internationally later this year.
The Signature Class Prius PHEV initiative comes just after the Government announced a plan to increase New Zealand’s EV market to 64,000 vehicles by 2021. The campaign to increase EV sales here includes working with the private sector on bulk purchase of vehicles; EVs to be allowed in bus lanes; increased infrastructure; and $6 million to encourage purchase of the models.
But Pragnell said in his opinion, that figure should be $50m. Last year 262 EV/PHEV were sold in New Zealand and, year-to-date, 121 have been bought. The biggest-selling PHEV last year was the Mitsubishi Outlander (priced from $59,990) with 139 registrations while BMW’s i3 EV with range extender and the Nissan Leaf EV were second and third respectively with 45 and 35 registrations.
The Leaf is priced at $39,990 and the i3 is $82,400.