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By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

Toyota has told its dealers that it will use the Prius name on other hybrids in its lineup.  This was disclosed in a meeting of Toyota executives and its 60 largest US dealers last week.  They said Prius will not become a sub-brand like Scion, but the name will be attached to other hybrids in an undisclosed manner.  There are at least a couple of ways they could accomplish this, with varying degrees of intelligence.  It has been suggested that they might follow the lead of Oldsmobile in the 1980s, which seemed intent on badging every vehicle as a “Cutlass” – Cutlass, Cutlass Supreme, Cutlass Calais, etc.  In this method, we would have Prius, Prius Highlander (or “Prius SUV”), Prius Camry (or “Prius Sedan”), etc.  This would defeat the whole point of using the Prius name, which Toyota dealer Earl Stewart said, ““The Highlander hybrid and Camry hybrid do OK, but calling it ‘Synergy Drive’ never resonated with consumers,” Stewart says. “But they can make hay on the Prius name. It’s a magic name. If somebody says ‘I drive a Prius,’ everybody knows what he means.”  If they use the Prius name as a separate group of vehicles in the showroom, like in the above examples, the name Prius will lose its cache and its meaning, killing the very advantage they hoped to leverage.

If, on the other hand, they use the name “Prius” as a branding of its hybrid system (which is presently called “Hybrid Synergy Drive”), that might work.  In this method, we would have a Camry Prius, Highlander Prius, etc.  It might sound like the same thing, after all, all I did was to switch the words around.  However, no matter how they brand these vehicles, customers will know that it’s a Highlander or a Camry.  Calling it anything else will only insult their intelligence.  Keeping the model name first and using “Prius” as a descriptive term which brands the hybrid system makes sense.

Which way will Toyota go?  No way to tell – they haven’t even confirmed this new direction publicly yet.  At times, it seems that Toyota is bent on becoming the 21st century’s GM – too big for its own good and making bad decisions.  You would think that Toyota’s management is too smart for that, but we also thought GM’s was too smart 40 years ago.

That’s what I think – how about you?

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