Save on a Prius!
July 19, 2009 4:42 PM   Subscribe

So i am in the market to buy a new Prius and I heard someone once say that buying a car online can save you a lot of money. Has anyone done this with a Prius?

I want to get this car:

and am just trying to find the best way to get the best deal on it. I had some friends who talked about buying BMWs online and saving thousands of $$$ and I was curious if anyone has done this with the Prius.... I am willing thinking about paying it all off at once in cash also so if there are other ways to get a great deal any help would be great!


posted by matthelm to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Buying online only helps because you can find dealers with more supply than there is demand for a particular model. It is my understanding that demand for a Prius is still high so you are unlikely to get a deal. Also financing is another place where they make a lot of coin so I am not sure that you paying off the car all at once will necessarily be attractive to them.
posted by mmascolino at 5:52 PM on July 19, 2009

I have purchased two Prii via online means. One was a floor-model in 2001 and we saved at least $10k, the other a brand new one in 2007 and we were actually able to talk down the price about $1k from what was agreed online by looking like we were ready to walk on the deal. We paid cash both times, both were in LA. YMMV
posted by johngumbo at 6:43 PM on July 19, 2009

I'm sure there is no one other than the local dealer that can "service" a Prius. Therefore the best way to create a good relationship with your local dealer is to buy the car from them. If there is options/color issues look at other dealers with in 300 miles or so & let the dealers trade it out. That is a very common practice in the new car biz. Your plan is penny wise & pound foolish.
posted by patnok at 6:55 PM on July 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the thoughts. I appreciate the ideas and will put them to use in my plans.
posted by matthelm at 9:12 PM on July 19, 2009

The 2010 (3rd edition) Prius is selling pretty well now, with many cars selling off the dealers' incoming vehicles lists before they hit the showroom. Thus, it will be a little difficult to save much off MSRP on this vehicle. We just bought a Prius IV at MSRP after exhausting various methods of getting a discount. Best to hope for at this stage is $200-300 off on a less popular options package or color. One dealer in suburban DC (MD) was offering $200 off every Prius, but had a very low inventory.

The 2010 model is rather new to the showrooms, deliveries beginning in June (I believe). Best bet for a discount is to wait a bit, let the early adopters buy and some discounts will probably be available via buying services and online dealer offers as autumn approaches. Demand in both Japan and the US is high right now, and Toyota has upped production to try to meet domestic and international sales. Not a great scenario for discounts. However, Toyota will be offering the lower-end package (Prius I) some time this fall. That might stretch out the field a bit and permit some discount opportunities across the Prius I-V product line.

We needed a car now, so we bought ours at full MSRP (a first for us). Seeing no real potential for discounts, we bit the bullet. Time could be your friend - if you're willing to wait a bit. :)
posted by flyingrock at 8:11 AM on July 20, 2009

A friend of mine used on-line services to find out the dealer's cost for the car she wanted and what a reasonable mark-up should be. She then sent a letter to all the dealers near her telling them exactly what car and options she wanted and what she was willing to pay. She got a couple who agreed to her price. She saved a lot of money and avoided the negotiating game/hassle.

Another friend used BJ's Wholesale Club's car buying service and claimed it saved them a lot of money. My insurance company has a similar service but I haven't tried it.

I think it is worth trying, assuming that you use a legitimate service. Although I agree with everyone else who says you may not save much on a car that is in high demand.

You might want to ask for opinions about the on-line service that you are thinking about using.

I've also heard, and I don't know if it is true, that you should not discuss how you are going to pay for a car until you've agreed on the price. There's no need to tell them right away that you are going to pay cash. You could also agree to a loan and then pay it off right away, but make certain that there are no penalties for doing so.
posted by 14580 at 9:00 AM on July 20, 2009

I do not recommend buying a car over the internet. You can't negotiate with a screen. And, you *must* negotiate car prices.

Generally, Kelley Blue Book "invoice" price plus $1000 (the dealer's profit) is fair. If they want to go lower than that, (incentives and all that), that's OK, too.

Good luck!
posted by Citrus at 11:26 AM on July 20, 2009

I don't know about Kelley's Blue Book "invoice" prices but I don't think their used car prices are to be trusted. I've seen big differences between theirs and some of the other books.

I bought a mint used Camry from a guy who had been having trouble selling it. He advertised it for what Kelley's said it was worth and everyone else apparently thought that there was wrong with the car because it was priced for $5000 less than what my bank's loan department said it was worth.

A dealer's actual invoice price can be defined in ways that are not always completely truthful. A $1000 mark-up sounds fair but it also seems like a number pulled out of thin air. You might want to do some research to determine if that really is a fair profit margin for the dealer.

My philosophy is to always play fair, but don't play according to someone else's rules unless you absolutely have to. Dealers play negotiating games because they usually work to their advantage. Play by their rules and there's a good chance you are going to get screwed.

Again, I do agree with everyone who says you might not get much of a deal if it is a hot selling car. But I've also read that Toyota is trying hard to keep Honda from taking the lead in hybrid car sales.
posted by 14580 at 7:35 PM on July 20, 2009

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