Geek Squad Trades In Volkswagen Beetle for Toyota Prius

Best Buy Unit Says Plans Were In Place To Change Cars Before Emissions Scandal Broke

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Credit: Best Buy
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Geek Squad is ditching its signature Volkswagen Beetle "Geekmobiles" for the 2016 Toyota Prius C.

Geek Squad, Best Buy's tech support unit, said today it will update its fleet with more than 1,000 Prius C hybrids, each branded with a redesigned logo. Best Buy spokeswoman Paula Baldwin said about 700 of the cars will enter the fleet immediately, and the rest will be added later in the year. The cars will remain in the lineup for 48 months or until they reach 65,000 miles, she said.

Ms. Baldwin said Best Buy chose the Prius over "a handful of different options" in large part due to its fuel efficiency. She said a new Prius C, EPA rated at an estimated 53 mpg in the city, will have 50% fewer carbon emissions than the Beetle over the course of its life, helping Best Buy hit its target of cutting its carbon emissions 45% by 2020.

Ms. Baldwin said Geek Squad's negotiations with Toyota for new Geekmobiles began before news of Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal broke in September, though she said the German automaker's scandal did affect the speed at which Best Buy decided to leave the Beetle behind.

"While we've never used a diesel-powered vehicle, we did accelerate plans to transition the Geekmobile to both protect the Geek Squad brand reputation and move to a more efficient vehicle," Ms. Baldwin wrote in an email.

The Beetle was Geek Squad's car of choice since Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, expanded the brand nationally in 2004.

Toyota's partnership with Geek Squad comes as sales of the Prius have waned this year in the face of cheap gasoline prices and soaring demand for crossovers and SUVs. Toyota has sold 31,936 Prius vehicles in the U.S. this year through March, a decline of 21% from the same period of 2015.

"This partnership provides Toyota with an opportunity to expose the Prius C to thousands of new customers from coast to coast each and every day," said Doug Coleman, Toyota national marketing manager for advanced technology vehicles, in a statement.

The Geekmobile switch comes as Geek Squad expands its offerings beyond technology repair and troubleshooting into installation, setup and other tech-related services.

"Today's Geek Squad agents are more likely to help clients with a new home theater experience, improve Wi-Fi performance or install a security solution than they are to fix the family computer," Geek Squad Chief Inspector Nate Brauer said in a statement. "The new Geekmobile and refreshed logo reflect how we continue to evolve along with technology."

Geek Squad estimates its 20,000 agents drive its fleet of Geekmobiles 12.6 million miles per year. The Prius vehicles in its fleet are authorized for service at local Toyota dealerships, Ms. Baldwin said.

John Irwin is a writer for Automotive News.