October 29, 2014

The Price of a Prius

Cars are cheap in the US. I've said this before (and I will probably say it many more times). That's because, in the US, the price of a car is just that: the price of the car. The sales tax gets added on, but that varies from 7.5% (California) to nil (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon).

I've compiled the list price of a basic Toyota Prius in selected countries. I've chosen the Prius because it is sold everywhere, with the same hybrid drive and engine size, and in much the same version - although it's always amusing to see the variations in the websites. Here's a screen shot from Toyota's Chinese website:

Yeah, I know: I don't read those kanji characters either. But there is a trick that makes it possible for English speakers to navigate websites that don't even use alphabets: my tips here.

The current US price for the Prius, $ 24,200 for the basic model, is very similar to that in Canada and Mexico. In stark contrast, in Brazil the Prius is more than twice as expensive as in the US. And in Argentina, which saw a substantial hike in the tax on luxury goods, the price is an eye-popping six-figure number when expressed in US dollars.

The only other place that comes close to that would be Singapore: not because the list price of the car is so very high, but because you need to buy a Certificate of Entitlement, or the right to own a car for ten years. Currently those are auctioned for about $58,000.

In European countries, the Prius' hybrid engine tends to get it a break from the vehicle taxes dictated largely by a car's carbon dioxide emissions. Except in Denmark, where the hybrid exception doesn't apply. In most places sales are still subject to a hefty VAT (currenty 21% in the Netherlands, 20% in the UK).

Toyota Prius

MSRP "From" in US $
US $ 24,200 $ 24,200
Argentina US$ 108,900 $ 108,900
Brazil R$ 120,830 $ 49,100
Germany € 26,850 $ 36,800
Netherlands € 26,550 $ 36,400
Denmark Kr 428,990 $ 73,400
UK £ 21,995 $ 37,000
Japan ¥ 2,232,000 $ 20,600
South Korea ₩ 3,140 00 00 $30,000
China ¥ 229,800 $ 37,500
India Rs. 36,63,479 $ 59,900
Indonesia Rp. 635,900,000 $ 52,300
Australia A$ 37,753 $ 33,400

Japan is the one country where the Toyota Prius has a smaller price tag than the US. A few years ago, in 2011, the Japanese price tag was higher when expressed in US dollars: since then the dollar has strengthened considerably compared to the yen. Incidentally, Japan has the highest proportion of hybrid cars in the world: one third of passenger cars in Japan are hybrids.

In more developed Asian countries like South Korea and China, the Prius sells for $30,000 or more. Developing countries like India and Indonesia tend to put large import duties on foreign cars: this tips the price of a Prius over the $50,000 mark.

I repeat: cars are cheap in the US.



You may also like:
1. Why are cars so small outside the US?
2. Carbon Tax is an Effective Tool to Reduce Cars' Emissions
3. Beware the Sales Tax


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