Buyer interest in Prius grows. Say what?

by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- By now, you've heard that some 2010 Toyota Priuses have a braking problem blamed for several crashes. That sounds scary, but to some it sounds like a deal.

A recent analysis of online car shopping shows that more people are seriously looking at a Toyota Prius than before the problematic brake news was uncovered.

2010_toyota_prius.03.jpg
2010 Toyota Prius

"When a car or automaker receives bad press, people sense an opportunity to pick up a bargain," noted Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl. "We saw the same reaction from consumers when Chrysler and General Motors declared bankruptcy last year."

These shoppers may not actually want to buy a car with a potentially hazardous defect, of course. Shortly after the problem came to light, Toyota revealed that it had instituted a "running fix" on the Prius production line in Japan, so cars produced beginning some time in January don't have the problem.

Besides that, shoppers may be putting their faith in an eventual recall, too, said Edmunds.com spokeswoman Jeannine Fallon.

"There's still trust the automaker will have it taken care of if there is a problem," she said.

In the week leading up to the first news reports of an apparent problem, about 7.4% of those researching compact cars were considering a Prius. As of Thursday, after the news broke, 8.7% did.

Among those who seemed seriously ready to buy a compact car, 10.1% were looking hard at the Prius before the news. By Thursday, 11.2% were.

Some Prius owners complained that the brakes hesitated to work when traveling over rough or potholed roads.

Edmunds.com's data trackers gauge purchase intent by noting a user's on-line behavior. Certain behaviors, like pricing research, has a strong correlation to actual intent to purchase a car, Edmunds.com analysts have found.

It was revealed late Tuesday that Prius owners had lodged more than 100 complaints of a problem in which the car's brakes briefly hesitated to work on bumpy or potholed roads. As of Wednesday, four crashes had been alleged as a result of the problem. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,416.85 225.48 1.31%
Nasdaq 4,683.41 45.42 0.98%
S&P 500 2,021.25 19.09 0.95%
Treasuries 1.75 0.03 1.57%
Data as of 10:40pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 118.90 3.59 3.11%
Bank of America Corp... 15.43 0.23 1.51%
Yahoo! Inc 43.73 -2.73 -5.88%
Microsoft Corp 42.01 0.82 1.99%
Facebook Inc 78.00 1.76 2.31%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Shake Shack is a huge success in New York. But will the 'fine casual' burger and fries joint be a big hit with investors too? It looks like Wall Street has worked up its appetite for the Shake Shack IPO. More

The Wednesday announcement that Don Thompson will retire as CEO of McDonald's leaves just two black CEOs in the elite Dow 30. More

Google reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that rose from a year ago, but the company fell short of Wall Street's expectations. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

The IRS said it has carried out thousands of audits of offshore schemes and pursued criminal charges that have resulted in "billions of dollars in criminal fines and restitutions." And it won't stop there. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.