Parts of this story make sense: now that the federal tax credits for the Prius have been reduced, customers aren't as eager to buy the world's most famous hybrid. To encourage shoppers, Toyota offered various incentives around the country – 3.9 percent financing options, monthly payments as low as $249, etc. – last month.

And parts of this story don't make sense: the deals were offered last month and we just hearing about it now.

While the incentives were not a nationwide deal (just seven of Toyota's 12 U.S. sales regions had some sort of special offer), I wonder why this wasn't publicized more while the offers were on the table. Does Toyota not want to admit the Prius isn't selling as well as they'd hoped (the stated goal is 150,000 a year in America. Just under 110,000 were sold in 2006 and 2005)? Was this a test program while the company tries to get the federal tax credit extended?

Whatever the case, January sales figures were up compared to last year, but 8,299 vehicles sold last month means a long way go for the rest of the year.

Source: Richard Truett / Autonews (subs req'd)]

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