Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem

Hans · Aug 23, 2022 09:53 AM

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 01

Japan has one of the highest fuel prices in the world. Despite it being home to many of the world’s biggest automotive names, Japan actively discourages the use of personal cars, especially in the city.

To promote public transport – as any sustainably developed country should – Japan imposes two types of taxes on petrol – consumption tax (similar to GST) and petrol tax.

Fuel prices in Japan now average around RM 5.40 per litre for regular petrol (RON 89 to RON 95), and RM 5.75 per litre for high octane ones (RON 96 and above).

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 01

Image: Web CarTop

At the same time, electricity rates are also rising in tandem with soaring global fuel prices. Household electricity rates are now at its highest in 5 years – having gone up by between 10 to 30 percent - and Japanese households are feeling the pinch.

But never mind about electricity rates. Japan's multi-stack and turn-table style mechanized car parks make it nearly impossible for overnight charging of EVs. Even in the suburbs, dedicated parking spaces or a covered car porch is not very common.

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 02

A typical residential car park in a Japanese city. Overnight charging for EVs is either not an option, or becomes overwhelmingly complicated

Add disruptions in global supply chain that is resulting in a severe backlog of new car deliveries, often more than 1 year, and you have a perfect storm to trigger a rapid rise in resale value of one of Japan’s most popular used car – the Toyota Prius.

10-year old Toyota Priuses are now selling in Japan at the same price as what a 5-year old example used to sell before the pandemic hit.

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 03

A new fourth generation Toyota Prius (above) has a starting price of 2,597,000 Yen (~RM 85,000). Before the pandemic, a 5-year old Prius would sell at around 750,000 Yen (~RM 25,000).

Sidenote: Yes, cars are cheap to buy in Japan, but it’s very expensive to refuel, drive (toll) and park (free parking is extremely rare, even in the suburbs). After 3 years, the compulsory shaken vehicle inspection costs about RM 4,000 to RM 5,000, and it’s valid for only 2 years. It's also why many Japanese don't keep their cars longer than 5 years, at least that was how it was pre-pandemic.

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 04

A rare kitted up G's variant.

Today, 10-year old Priuses are asking for the same price as 5-year old ones used to. Some well-kept low mileage examples of high specs variants with verified history are even listed at close to 2 million Yen (~RM 65,500).

Leading classifieds like goo-net and kurumaerabi rank the Prius as the No.1 most searched used car on their platform, while Car Sensor lists it as the most searched non-kei car (Honda N-Box leads in overall ranking).

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 05

This particular 10-year model above with verified history and a Japanese-standard inspection score of 5.9 out of 6 - meaning that the car is almost as good as new - is asking for 1.67 million Yen (~RM 54,600).

In 2012, this exact same variant was selling new for 3.34 million Yen (~RM 109,300), meaning that this Prius has lost only around 50 percent of its value in 10 years. In normal times, even the best 10-year old examples would've lost 70 percent of its value.

Toyota’s own certified pre-owned cars channel confirms more or less the same. Their data show that the average selling price for a 10-year old Prius is now 1.28 million Yen, versus its then new average selling price of 2.71 million Yen (about 53 percent depreciation).

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 06

The reasons behind rising resale value of the Prius are rather simple – it’s a trusted, reliable, low maintenance, low running cost car that offers enough space for the family. 

The 1.8-litre 3rd generation Prius has a real-world fuel consumption of around 4.8-litre/100 km, or around 21 km/litre.

On our side of the world, the Toyota Prius was relatively minor player and has since been discontinued in Malaysia. Its mantle now taken over by the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid. The SUV's more traditional styling is more acceptable to local buyers than the Prius’ Kammback tail, tiny e-shifter and two-tier centre console inside, which in the late 2000s to mid 2010s when it was on sale, were all a tad too radical for many Malaysians.

The 3rd generation Prius, the last model to be sold here, looked a bit too quirky for many users to accept it, and many feared the high replacement cost for its high voltage battery.

Petrol prices in Japan soared to RM 5.40 per litre, resale value of Toyota Prius rising in tandem 07

Outside of Japanese cities, Phnom Penh has the highest concentration of Priuses.

The only exceptions to this are taxi drivers in Cambodia and Singapore, who trust Toyota hybrids more than any regular combustion engine car.

Also readToyota doesn’t sell hybrids in Cambodia, so why is Phnom Penh SEA’s Prius capital?

In Japan however, the Prius has a slightly different image. For most of the early 2000s to 2010s, it was Japan’s No.1 selling (non-kei) car, until the latest Toyota Yaris and Yaris Cross came along. Driving in Japan, a Toyota Prius is as common as a Myvi here, so maintenance cost is not a big concern for buyers there.

For many Japanese drivers, a used Toyota Prius is just a sensible choice to protect oneself against rising living cost. Ten years later, many still find it modern enough to meet their needs, especially to those who urgently need a replacement car but can't wait 1 year for a new car. 

Also read8 out of 10 of Japan's best-selling cars for 2021 is a Toyota, Nissan Note outsells Honda Jazz

Hans

Head of Content

Over 15 years of experience in automotive, from product planning, to market research, to print and digital media. Garages a 6-cylinder manual RWD but buses to work.

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