Toyota Offering Certified Used Hybrids

Toyota Toyota wants to bring new customers to its lineup of hybrid vehicles with a program that only Toyota is in a position to do: hybrid-only certified, pre-owned vehicles.


Toyota says its Certified Used Hybrid program offers the standard three-month/3,000-mile comprehensive and seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties, and roadside assistance plus an the eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid battery warranty.

Toyota and Lexus combined have the most hybrid models among automakers, and--because of Prius--the highest volume of hybrid vehicle sales in the U.S. The company, which launched the first Prius in 1997, now has seven hybrid nameplates: the Camry sedan, and Highlander SUV; hybrid versions of the Lexus LS, and GS cars and the RX SUV; and later this year, a hybrid-only Lexus HS 250 car.

Toyota, which unveiled its third-generation Prius at the Detroit auto show two weeks ago, says that 670,000 of the cars have been sold in the U.S. since the nameplate's inception. Of the 241,405 hybrid vehicles sold by Toyota Motor Sales (comprising Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands in the U.S.), 65%--or 241,405 of them--were Priuses.



The bad news is that because of the economy, and lower gasoline prices in the fourth quarter last year, hybrid sales were off 10% overall in 2008. They were off 42.8% in December alone, when only 17,698 hybrids were sold. In December, Prius sales were off over 44%. Toyota said it would hold off on building a Prius plant in Mississippi.

Still, Dan Gorrell, president of North Tustin, Calif.-based research and consulting firm AutoStrategem, says Toyota's creation of a special Certified Used Hybrid channel makes sense.

"Though with new vehicles so widely discounted in the market, because of the state of the industry, I think it's a great idea for hybrids because of the nagging doubt about the battery," he says. "I think it's a good symbolic move that says 'we have confidence in these cars and we are going to back them up. Whether it is an offensive or defensive strategy, it makes sense."

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