Ever since the budget announcement on 12th June, there has been a huge expectation of influx of imported hybrid vehicles in Pakistan. Within a period of 6 months, we have seen all the major players scramble to tap in on the opportunity and bring hybrid vehicles to the Pakistani market. Who knows how long these budget subsidies will last and whether this is the right strategy but we are here now and so are hybrids.
The Toyota Prius has been available in Pakistan for a few years now, but so far these cars have been part of the grey market where some of the cars may have dodgy past, limited or no warranty and may have been damage repaired to a non-standard spec. Toyota, with its launch of the Prius in Pakistan on 3rd December (covered here), will aim to comfort buyers by introducing brand new, imported CBU units backed by Toyota Indus warranty but whether sales are achievable on a 70-80% price increase over the open market price is still to be seen.
Honda on the other hand has expansion plans for Pakistan, having just celebrated its 20th anniversary here, increasing its production capacity and aiming for more sales than ever in its 2 decade history. Honda, for its part, introduced the CRZ on 19th December (covered here) in a grand launching ceremony with a competitive price compared to the Prius.
Let’s compare the two across several categories and get a feel of what each of these have to offer.
The official Japanese test figures (JC08) suggest that the CR-Z, with its IMA technology, returns around 23 km/l for the CVT and 21 km/l for the 6 speed MT. Prius, on the other hand, with its EV mode returns about 32 km/l for the CVT according to the same Japanese fuel efficiency tests. The EV mode in the Prius allows the driver, with a touch of a button, an electric only mode where it uses no petrol under certain criterion, which gives the Prius a clear advantage in terms of economy.
Interior & Space
The CR-Z is a compact sport hybrid with 2 passenger doors whereas the Prius is a full size hatchback with space for 5 adults. The numbers back this up as the CR-Z provides 1389 litres of passenger space compared to the 2653 litres in the Prius. The display inside a Prius shows you exactly when the power is being transferred from the batteries to the powertrain and the other way around, with help from fancy graphics. CR-Z has a limited display which provides info on battery charge levels as well as an indicator to show when the battery power is assisting the 1.5l i-VTEC engine.
Honda first introduced the CR-Z at the Detroit Motor Show in 2008 and has been in sales in most parts of the world since 2010 so reasonable to say a fairly new addition to the world of hybrids. Prius is an old dog of the hybrids, in fact the bestselling hybrid of all time, which has allowed Toyota to bring in innovation and a hybrid system that is miles ahead of the competition.
Having driven both vehicles, I feel that the CR-Z has a stiffer suspension, which provides for a better handling experience, a better pick and subsequently a better 0-100 km/h time. Trouble is with the state of most of our roads, driving the CR-Z comfortable can be a real challenge. CR-Z, compared with the Prius, is faster, has a better power to weight ratio as well as better braking distance. The CR-Z is therefore a clear winner when it comes to performance and driver experience.
The Prius, with its 1.8l hybrid petrol/electric engine, from Toyota dealers will set you back Rs45 lacs and the CR-Z from Honda dealers will cost you between Rs32.69 – 35 lacs depending on colour and transmission options. Both vehicles fall in different tax bands and for instance in Sindh, for a Prius we are looking at an annual motor vehicle tax figure of Rs3,200/- with a marginal difference compared to Rs3,000/- for the CR-Z due to variations in engine size.
Lastly the Prius has a better crash test record for safety than the CR-Z in frontal and side impacts but the chance of rolling over a CR-Z is lower due to better positioned centre of gravity.
Prius has been in the market for some time now and it will be difficult for the CR-Z to compete with the residual values and resale value that come naturally with the Toyota badge in Pakistan. Despite its lower cost, the Prius will sell more due to people’s tendency to trust and appreciate the Toyota brand.
It is also important to note that in the categories listed above, the Prius’ real competition from Honda is from the Insight, which if introduced in Pakistan is expected to be cheaper due to the smaller engine size than the Prius. Therefore, it is safe to assume that for now the Prius and the CR-Z are actually competing in 2 different market categories.
Have Honda missed the trick here? We can only wait and see…