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Toyota rolls out hybrid CPO program

January 22, 2009 | 10:51 am

Hybridbadge500What’s better than a used hybrid? Toyota believes it’s a certified pre-owned (CPO) hybrid. It seems folks aren’t aware hybrid Toyotas are available as CPO cars, and Toyota would like to change that trend. “We’ve already sold 30,000 hybrids to date on this program, but we’ve found that consumers have low awareness that hybrids are included in our CPO cars,” explained Steve Gallagher, Toyota certified used vehicles marketing manager.

The program, announced this morning, is called the Toyota Certified Used Hybrid (TCUH), an extension of the existing Toyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV), and it provides inspection points and extended warranty coverage on all certified used Toyota hybrids.

What’s the difference? Toyota tells us it’s 14 inspection points that affect the components running adjacent to the internal combustion system. These checkpoints include the multi-informational display, inverter coolant levels, electric motor assisted power steering and the hybrid vehicle battery.

The program has its own easy-to-navigate consumer website, where we found eight Pruises of varying years with prices ranging from the high-$14,000s to mid-$20,000s. After making several calls to the related dealerships, however, we found not one sales manager who knew the program existed. Gallagher explained this phenomenon: “We’ve just rolled out the program on the dealerships’ internal newsletter yesterday, and sometimes it takes a few days to get the word out.”

All this is understandable when you consider Toyota has over 1,200 dealerships in the U.S. alone, but when we asked how the current hybrid cars in the program could have been inspected for all 14 checkpoints without the dealers involved, Gallagher explained: “The checkpoints were already established as a part of our existing certified program.”

So, bottom line: Great new website, but in reality, it’s the same program you could have gotten yesterday. But now you’re more aware of it, right?

-- Joni Gray

Photo credit: Toyota