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 17,098.45 18.88 0.11%
Nasdaq 4,580.27 22.58 0.50%
S&P 500 2,003.37 6.63 0.33%
Treasuries 2.34 0.01 0.39%
Data as of 2:52am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.09 0.08 0.50%
Apple Inc 102.50 0.25 0.24%
Intel Corp 34.92 0.27 0.78%
Facebook Inc 74.82 0.96 1.31%
General Electric Co 25.98 -0.03 -0.12%
Data as of Aug 29

Sections

The deal would value Vice at $2.5 billion. The online media company would also create content for the cable network, delivering a wider audience. More

Gas prices are falling to nearly $3 a gallon in some parts of South Carolina, and that will soon be common in much of the country. More

Netflix told the FCC that its speed on the Comcast network became so slow that customers began dropping their service. More

The Coolest Cooler is the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the site's history, raising $13.3 million from over 62,000 backers. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.