February 23rd, 2010 by Potato

I visited my Prius today. I didn’t get to take it home with me — they want me to pay first, which is kind of crazy in this world of credit, but who am I to argue with the man. It’s a winter grey with dark grey interior. I didn’t sit inside to check for myself, but the paperwork says that there are 211 km on it — a bit more than I’d expect a new car to have, but not enough that I’m concerned it was a demo and that I would try to renegotiate the deal.

This is probably a good time to review all that’s happened up to this point.

The Car Search: I must have had the longest car search process ever. Back in 2006 my car was stolen and recovered (and yes, I did disclose that to the dealer about the trade-in), and I started looking for a new one. Even though it felt icky after being stolen, I came to the decision to keep the Accord, since it was still a reliable source of transportation. That didn’t stop me from looking though: I looked at the Accord, Civic, Civic Hybrid, Matrix, and Prius. After much research I decided that a hybrid made a lot of sense in a world of rising gas prices (and I made many spreadsheets to back that up). Moreover, they offered a number of environmental benefits, so as long as the financial side was at least a wash, I was all for it. Plus, I didn’t know what my future driving cycle would be: if I had to do a commute through Toronto rush-hour traffic, a hybrid system would more than pay for itself. As a car, the civic hybrid (and later the Camry/Fusion hybrids) were eliminated due to trunk space issues. The Prius, being a hatchback (and a purpose-designed hybrid with the batteries in the floor) didn’t share that problem, and looked a lot better than the Civic on a number of spatial and amenity fronts, and even compared fairly favourably with the Accord. I did think it was bull-dog ugly at first. It’s grown on me, especially as the aerodynamic shape gets copied by more manufacturers… but it’s definitely “quirky” in the looks department. Even inside, the high-mounted information display (which I like for its functionality) just looks somehow wrong.

I also did a lot of research into the many, many myths, misconceptions, and other bizarre ideas that are out there about hybrids. And there were a lot — I’ve covered many of them in past posts. I had my dad counselling me not to get a hybrid, because the technology is still “too new” — in 2006 he said to wait a few more years for more data; now it’s 2010 and that’s still his line. At this point I know that there are still unknown factors out there, but I think that things look good enough to take the plunge.

The Wait: Then came three and a half years of further research, discussion, and spreadsheeting. The Accord had it’s share of old car repairs to make, and each time I had to wonder when it would be time to give it up. After a wheel bearing needed to be replaced this fall I figured that this winter would be its last (since wheel bearings are expensive and there were 3 more in there that might be nearing the end of their lives). A few weeks ago there was the recall mess at Toyota, and I thought it was an opportunity to get a deal on a car they don’t normally negotiate too hard on.

The recall doesn’t phase me: I think this can only lead to a safer car in the long run. Toyota is under the spotlight now and they will have to make these issues right. Any car could have a hidden major defect, and I don’t really see it as being an area of concern after it’s been found out and a fix on the way.

The Buying Process: I went to Car Cost Canada and got the invoice price report for the Prius. CCC had a recommended dealer here in London, Tim Felsky of Toyota Town. Since I know I’m not terribly good at in-person negotiations, but am good at having a sense of fairness and at working numbers, I added in a reasonable profit margin to the CCC invoice price, and sent it to Tim. He was able to work with it, and I went in to put down a deposit. It was just that easy. I probably could have gotten a better deal by negotiating harder, or even waiting a day or two (the Toyota gas pedal recall spread to the Prius braking system the day after I left my deposit) — indeed, some people at PriusChat were reporting getting below invoice in the US, and one friend said I should have squeezed them right down to invoice price, since they still make some money at that point, and there weren’t any other customers around! Nonetheless, I got a better deal than I figured I would be able to get before the recall, or if I had waited until later in the summer (or for the 2011 release to avoid the first model year).

So far, the nastiest part of the buying process has been shopping for insurance quotes. A lot of insurers want the day I got my G1, G2, and G licenses. I actually do remember the day I got my G1 way back in 1995 (four days after my birthday), but can barely remember what year I got my full G in. I don’t even know where to go to look that stuff up.

I’m also shopping for a set of winter tires for it. Since February is almost over, I may not even put them on now, but if I can get a good deal as winter comes to a close I’ll take it and store the tires through the summer.

6 Responses to “Prius”

  1. Carzone Says:

    Followed your link from Priuschat to here.
    Nice Blog, Good story.
    I put the deposit on my prius on Feb25. But I missed the 2 years free maintenance due to the late delivery. I picked up my car on March 11.
    I’d like to know how long you have waited for your prius.
    Do you get the 2 years free maintenance from Toyota Canada?

  2. Potato Says:

    To pick it up I only waited a few weeks (it was ready ~1.5 weeks after I left the deposit, and I had to wait a bit longer to pick it up because I had to get the certified cheques ready, etc.).

    But I’ve been waiting almost 4 years since I started looking for a new car when my old one was stolen (briefly) in ’06.

    I did get the 2 years free maintenance, but it would have been even better to wait until March to get the extra $1000 incentive from Toyota.

  3. Carzone Says:

    Actually, In February, Prius has “$1000 Customer Incentive + $1000 Cash customer Incentive”. But in March, the promotion is changed into “$2000 Cash customer Incentive” , which means the rebate is only valid for cash buyer.

    Could you tell me when you pick up your prius? Is that Before March 1st?
    I think it is not fair for my case. The late delivery is not my fault, but the dealer refused to provide the 2 years free maintenance.

  4. Potato Says:

    I was told the two February incentives didn’t stack, i.e. as a cash buyer I’d only get the $1000 “cash incentive”, or I could get the $1000 “customer incentive” as a lease/finance customer, which I thought was a strange way of doing it… if it turns out I could have gotten both, I’ll be fairly upset at the dealer for not telling me (and for CCC for not making it clear that both could be used as a cash buyer… I’m pretty sure that report also indicated that the two incentives didn’t stack).

    Though if you’re not a cash buyer, then I supposed February would have been better for you.

  5. Carzone Says:

    Oh. Maybe your dealer did not tell you the truth.
    In toronto, I visited two dealerships in February. They all told me the two incentives are stackable. If I pay cash, I will get the $2000 rebate. The first $1000 is for buying the prius. Another $1000 is for buying the prius by cash.

    I hope this info could help you to get back your $1000.

  6. Potato Says:

    I just wanted to follow-up here: it’s been over a month, and I haven’t done anything about this. I don’t think my dealer was dishonest with me, though if they were I would be more upset at CCC which is supposed to make these things clear for their members, to provide a check on what the dealer says.

    So I went back and forth a bit over what I should do — on the one hand, I’m not the kind of guy to try and change a deal once we’ve worked it out. On the other, a thousand bucks is a lot of money. In the end I did nothing because:

    a) I’m lazy and don’t like confrontation.
    b) I threw out my printed CCC report for February, so I couldn’t double-check what it said about the two incentives (and the electronic one automagically updated to March and now April incentives).
    c) Wayfare would give me that look if I tried.