Our friends at J. D. Power and Associates are reporting that sales of "conventional" hybrids, though strong, are probably not expanding because of the increased awareness of the upcoming plug-In versions that are now in the works. Perhaps there are other distractions as well: relatively stable gasoline prices; large discount programs on other vehicles, and the fact that the Prius - though clearly successful at indicating its owner's "lifestyle choice" - has never been exactly a beauty queen.
After all, the car looks high and narrow and backseat headroom is less than desirable for some (me). Also, the smaller tires don't do well for the proportions of the car. They don't have to be racing slicks but they need to be more substantial. Right now, they look like the Prius drove through a puddle and the tires shrank.
On the other hand, Toyota has announced a drop in first cost from about $22,200 in 2007 to $20,950 in 2008 for a slightly decontented version. Sounds like a good incentive to me. A new owner can buy some more substantial wheels and tires for the car with the savings.
[Source: Bobit Publications]