Elon Musk’s number one justification for selling direct to consumers is because traditional dealers are incapable of selling an electric car properly. US Toyota dealers are proving that Musk is right. Toyota says the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid is available in all 50 states but Toyota dealers all across America are telling people the cars are not for sale outside of California. Are Toyota dealers liars or just plain stupid?

Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric car

Here is the official information straight from Toyota’s East Coast communciations manager Corey Proffitt:

The Prius Prime is available in all 50 states and deliveries began [in December] in all states. Initial deliveries were prioritized for [California and other] ZEV states based on customer demand, but allocation was balanced based on demand among all Toyota sales regions.

That’s the theory. The reality is something else entirely. This is what one customer was told on December 1 by Dunning Toyota in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Note that Toyota says 781 Prius Prime cars were delivered to American  buyers in November. The customer tells Green Car Reports, “My Toyota dealer told me that they’d heard Toyota would not sell Prius Prime anywhere in the U.S. other than California and New York. She said they were told not to expect any Primes in any foreseeable time frame.”

Near the end of December, a customer near Dallas reported being told by the local Toyota dealer,

The Prius Prime will not be sold by Gulf States Toyota distributor in any of their five-state market. That covers Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. [The company] will not stock their dealers or allow orders to be taken. Those orders already taken with deposits are canceled and the deposits are to be refunded.

Finally, there’s this from a customer who visited a Toyota dealer near Pueblo, Colorado last week and was told by two salesmen that the Prius Prime was only sold in California.

Toyota’s Proffit does provide some cover for the dealers involved. “This is the first time the plug-in Prius will be sold outside the ZEV states, so there is some legacy in educating and communicating with dealers and their associates who will now sell Prius Prime. For most, this will be the first time selling a plug-in Toyota.

“Based on inventory levels in early December, had an associate in one of the non-ZEV areas checked their region’s stock, there may not have been a Prius Prime available. Inventory continues to trickle into those states and will increase as vehicles become available and demand builds.”

Nevertheless, Toyota dealers were advised at a national sales meeting last April that the Prius Prime would be available in all 50 states. Yet the old familiar refrain continues. Traditional car dealers just can’t be bothered selling electric cars. They don’t want their sales staff taking the time to educate customers about the advantages of electric car ownership and sales people are woefully unprepared to talk about them with customers as a result.

Perhaps if Toyota revoked a few dealer licenses on the grounds that the owners are too stupid to be entrusted with such a valuable asset, the others would wise up? Naah, too much to expect, apparently.

Source:  Green Car Reports