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Discussion Starter #1
I've been watching TV lately and noticed that Toyota has been running a lot of commercials lately promoting how fuel efficient their cars are. "9 out of 10 Toyota cars get 30MPG." Nowhere in this commercial does it mention the Prius, their most fuel efficient vehicle. It has been about a year since the vehicle has been released. Its doubtful that Toyota just overlooked the car. It is their most fuel efficient car! Its also their only car popular enough to have a waiting list. Therefore I think the omission is intentional, unless there are TV commercials for the 2004 Prius which I havent seen.

My paranoid mind has come up with a conspiracy scenario as to why Toyota did this. Prius was meant to be a public beta test vehicle for their THS Synergy drive that will soon be used in their upcoming vehicles (Lexus RX400h, Highlander, and 2006 Camry, high profile names that must be as close to perfection as possible). The Prius was never supposed to catch on (hence low initial production numbers). Toyotas goal is to produce hybrids models with this technology for their more of their fleet by mid-decade (next year). Testing out new technology in a limited market is to be a shield them from souring customers of their high profile cars if something doesnt perform as planned or marketed.

The Prius with its unexpected appeal is a problem Toyota didn't plan for, its unexpectedly popular! As a public beta test vehicle it was supposed to be limited to few people with low enough interest that it could be quietly phased out when the other hybrids that are in the works arrive. The problem is Prius as it is now is popular, and could eventually cut into the established buyer market for of the Camry and Corolla. Toyota doesnt know what it should do because these are their bread and butter cars. Prius has better mileage than a current Corolla and the interior space of the Camry. But Toyota will have a hybrid Camry and Corolla soon, because they feel obligated to do so. First their direct competitor Honda and its Accord will be in a hybrid form by next year second, these are their best selling cars, what better way to gain acceptance for a technology than to put it in your most popular cars? Corolla will only follow in the hybridization trend if it could be done at a low enough price point to fit the Corolla buyer market.

What will happen to the Prius when hybrid Camry and Corolla hit the market? It would put it in direct competition with Toyota's two best selling sedans. It will be a car in the crowded middle that offers benefits of both yet excels at neither. The Camry is larger and more able to serve customers that want some more comfort and a name theyve known for years. The Camry will have to come with a more powerful engine than available in the Prius to compete with the Accord Hybrid with its V6 engine, yet remain frugal with consumption. The current Camry its not exactly a guzzler right now at 24/33 on the I4. The THS system has provided double the city mileage for the Prius with an engine the same displacement as the Echo, and gave a 20% boost on highway (in an 800lb heavier car). Corolla is a lighter, smaller, and cheaper car than the Prius. If they streamline (more aerodynamic) more it might be able to attain higher mileage figures than the Prius because it is already smaller and lighter. This higher mileage figure would take the crown and biggest benefit of owning a Prius away. What happens to Prius then? It will have to fight against two established winners with while trying to be both at the same time.

Of course I could be wrong because this is a significant diversion from what we are all thinking. There are other plausible reasons for Toyota not advertising the Prius. It could bring them bad press because if more people tried to buy a Prius now. With the current waiting list and Americas I want it now mentality, it could kill all interest in the car because you just cant have it now. But it will still be on the minds of potential buyers even if they eventually bring up production of the car to meet demand. Another possibility is that the marketing people feel that the Prius is selling well enough that it doesnt need anymore help (commercials cost money). The current commercials could be Toyotas way of reminding the public that they make other cars besides the Prius that gets good mileage. Only Toyota knows the real reason for leaving the Prius out of its advertising, without more information all I can do is speculate.
 

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windsurfdog said:
Hmmmmm........could it be that the car sells itself as evidenced by the long lists at dealers nationwide?
The last thing Toyota needs now is to add to the list of people that are just waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and...............
 

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The last thing Toyota needs now is to add to the list of people that are just waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and...............

"Come down to your local Toyota dealer and check out the Prius*! 55MPG1 GPS! Bluetooth! 9 Speakers! Big as a Camry! Etc! Etc! Etc!"

*Prius may not actually be available and due to limited quantities may not even be available within 1000 miles for a test drive. Actual MSRP of $25,910 for loaded model may be marked up, up to $5000 or as the dealership feels they need to based on your 8 month+ wait period. We at Toyota can only guarantee that the APPEARANCE of your actual vehicle will match this**.

**Unless of course you're SO FAR down the waiting list you are due for a 2005 model year Prius in which case all appearances, features, prices and colors are TOTALLY OFF. Happy waiting! :D



Yeah, I can see how that wouldn't exactly be a GOOD campaign for them... Just go to http://www.prius.com and after you click the country you'll see a little blurb about extremely limited quantities, etc etc etc
 

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lasrx said:
Only Toyota knows the real reason for leaving the Prius out of its advertising, without more information all I can do is speculate.
And much of your speculation makes perfect sense. While I doubt that Toyota didn't intend for the Prius to suceed, it seems apparent that the vehicle's relative success has taken the company by surprise and this will undoubtedly leave them facing tough decisions regarding the future of the model line. I say relative success because it must be remembered that the Prius remains among Toyota's least popular cars and that, I suspect, is the main reason we don't see the Prius featured in a TV ad campaign.
Drive happy,
Moo :)
 

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My neighbor hit the nail on the head by calling it un-American to own a fuel efficient automobile. He has three large SUV's parked in front of his house and claims he is proud to support his President and the oil industry. Needless to say, I respect his views and am proud to direct my dog to his lawn as my supportive comment.
 

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> commercials lately promoting how fuel efficient their cars are

Toyota is a business. They need to sell vehicles to survive. Third-party supplier shortages and contract limitations are a reality they don't have a whole lot of control over. So they are promoting the vehicles they can actually provide to hold them over until supply needs can be resolved.

It happens all the time in the computer industry. Just look at what happened with the LCD market. Demand was overwhelming 4 years ago. Things got ugly as a result. Plans had to be delayed since there wasn't stock available to fill shelves. 3 years later though, the new production facilities were finally in place. Now a year after that, we can find large and inexpensive LCDs available everywhere.

Patience.
 

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It has been fairly well documented that Toyota has pulled most of their Prius advertising compaign as a result of demand exceeding supply. I just read a release the last day or two that further indicated Toyota was pulling all remaining Prius advertising to minimize cases where someone sees the advertisement and goes to the dealer only to find a 6+ month waiting list. They appear to realize this is not good from a long term perspective. Bottom line is why pay to advertise something you don't need to? Reminds me of the early PT Cruiser sales period.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I guess the latter explaination of not pissing off the public by advertising a car they can't have is probably true for the time being. But Toyota as a business will have to figure out what to do with the Prius in a few short years when their other hybrids become availible. From my standpoint if they don't eventually step up an advertising campainge for the Prius it will become lost in between the overlap of the Camry and Corolla hyrbids. Unless of course they continue charging a premium for hybrid technology, Corolla at $20k and Camry at $30k (Accord is coming in at $30k). Then the Prius could live on happily filling the gap between those two.
 

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Yeah, I can see how that wouldn't exactly be a GOOD campaign for them... Just go to http://www.prius.com and after you click the country you'll see a little blurb about extremely limited quantities, etc etc etc
To reply to my own post... in the words of Toyota, ON their website...

If you are in the market for a new 2004 Prius, we appreciate your patience. There is currently a waiting list at many dealerships across the country. Since the vehicle launched in October of 2003, there has been an extremely high demand for the 2004 Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive. Toyota is making every effort to increase production to try and respond to the current high levels of demand. We'd like to thank you for your patience. For more information about the Prius inventory situation in your area, please visit your local dealer.
 

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Warning: opinions ahead 8)

I agree it doesn't make much sense to advertise something that people can't have. But as to the future of Prius, as the rest of the Toyota line adopts the HSD, I think Toyota should continue to use the Prius as their introduction model for new green technology and advance the state of the art of their hybrid systems. lasrx makex a good point that they need to use established technology with a good track record in their classic models. This dual track will allow them to continue capitalizing on their reputation for reliability while further establishing themselves as the go to place for ecologically sound vehicles.

They should really go back and reestablish the on-line purchasing system for the Prius. This will be a really important sales channel in the future, but they don't want to offend their dealers by competing with their bread-and-butter Camry/Highlander sales while they develop the necessary infrastructure and learn how to work the on-line channel the best way.
 

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lasrx said:
I've been watching TV lately and noticed that Toyota has been running a lot of commercials lately promoting how fuel efficient their cars are... Nowhere in this commercial does it mention the Prius, their most fuel efficient vehicle... Its doubtful that Toyota just overlooked the car.... I think the omission is intentional,


(KM) They cut back on advertising for a product that doesn't need any advertising. Sounds sensible to me.

lasrx said:
My paranoid mind has come up with a conspiracy scenario as to why Toyota did this. Prius was meant to be a public beta test vehicle for their THS Synergy drive that will soon be used in their upcoming vehicles.... The Prius was never supposed to catch on ... Testing out new technology in a limited market (was to) shield them from souring customers of their high profile cars if something doesnt perform as planned or marketed.
(KM) So maybe that's what they planned. Sounds unobjectionable to me. No paranoia required

lasrx said:
The Prius with its unexpected appeal is a problem Toyota didn't plan for, its unexpectedly popular!
(KM) They make something lots of people want and this is somehow a problem?

lasrx said:
As a public beta test vehicle it was supposed to be limited to few people with low enough interest that it could be quietly phased out when the other hybrids that are in the works arrive. The problem is Prius as it is now is popular, and could eventually cut into the established buyer market for of the Camry and Corolla.
(KM) Here is where I start to disagree. What do they care what name they put on the bumper? They're still selling cars.

lasrx said:
Toyota doesnt know what it should do because these are their bread and butter cars.
(KM) So they make the Pri the new bread and butter car. That would be the Detroit approach. Or, being Toyota, they make the others somehow even better than they are already. Either way, no problem.

lasrx said:
What will happen to the Prius when hybrid Camry and Corolla hit the market?
(KM) Are you familiar with the expression "Root hog, or die"?

lasrx said:
It would put it in direct competition with Toyota's two best selling sedans. It will be a car in the crowded middle that offers benefits of both yet excels at neither... This higher mileage figure would take the crown and biggest benefit of owning a Prius away. What happens to Prius then? It will have to fight against two established winners with while trying to be both at the same time.
(KM) So if it stops selling, they stop making them. Problem solved.
 

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lasrx said:
I've been watching TV lately and noticed that Toyota has been running a lot of commercials lately promoting how fuel efficient their cars are... Nowhere in this commercial does it mention the Prius, their most fuel efficient vehicle... Its doubtful that Toyota just overlooked the car.... I think the omission is intentional,


(KM) They cut back on advertising for a product that doesn't need any advertising. Sounds sensible to me.

lasrx said:
My paranoid mind has come up with a conspiracy scenario as to why Toyota did this. Prius was meant to be a public beta test vehicle for their THS Synergy drive that will soon be used in their upcoming vehicles.... The Prius was never supposed to catch on ... Testing out new technology in a limited market (was to) shield them from souring customers of their high profile cars if something doesnt perform as planned or marketed.
(KM) So maybe that's what they planned. Sounds unobjectionable to me. No paranoia required

lasrx said:
The Prius with its unexpected appeal is a problem Toyota didn't plan for, its unexpectedly popular!
(KM) They make something lots of people want and this is somehow a problem?

lasrx said:
As a public beta test vehicle it was supposed to be limited to few people with low enough interest that it could be quietly phased out when the other hybrids that are in the works arrive. The problem is Prius as it is now is popular, and could eventually cut into the established buyer market for of the Camry and Corolla.
(KM) Here is where I start to disagree. What do they care what name they put on the bumper? They're still selling cars.

lasrx said:
Toyota doesnt know what it should do because these are their bread and butter cars.
(KM) So they make the Pri the new bread and butter car. That would be the Detroit approach. Or, being Toyota, they make the others somehow even better than they are already. Either way, no problem.

lasrx said:
What will happen to the Prius when hybrid Camry and Corolla hit the market?
(KM) Are you familiar with the expression "Root hog, or die"?

lasrx said:
It would put it in direct competition with Toyota's two best selling sedans. It will be a car in the crowded middle that offers benefits of both yet excels at neither... This higher mileage figure would take the crown and biggest benefit of owning a Prius away. What happens to Prius then? It will have to fight against two established winners with while trying to be both at the same time.
(KM) So if it stops selling, they stop making them. Problem solved.
 

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moocatdog said:
lasrx said:
Only Toyota knows the real reason for leaving the Prius out of its advertising, without more information all I can do is speculate.
And much of your speculation makes perfect sense. While I doubt that Toyota didn't intend for the Prius to suceed, it seems apparent that the vehicle's relative success has taken the company by surprise and this will undoubtedly leave them facing tough decisions regarding the future of the model line. I say relative success because it must be remembered that the Prius remains among Toyota's least popular cars and that, I suspect, is the main reason we don't see the Prius featured in a TV ad campaign.
Drive happy,
Moo :)
US Toyota passenger car sales, January through the end of May 2004
http://pressroom.toyota.com/photo_libra ... d=20040602

MODEL UNITS SOLD
Camry 176022
Corolla 139669
Prius 17564
Avalon 16948
Scion xB 15259
Scion xA 7796
Celica 4691
Echo 2092
MR2 Spyder 1439

With the Prius as their 3rd best seller (and they'd sell more if they shipped us more), I'd say that Toyota's advertising
of other models is to try and push them off of the dealer's lots!
 

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moocatdog said:
I say relative success because it must be remembered that the Prius remains among Toyota's least popular cars...
http://pressroom.toyota.com/photo_libra ... d=20040602[/url]

MODEL UNITS SOLD
Camry 176022
Corolla 139669
Prius 17564
Avalon 16948
Scion xB 15259
Scion xA 7796
Celica 4691
Echo 2092
MR2 Spyder 1439

With the Prius as their 3rd best seller (and they'd sell more if they shipped us more), I'd say that Toyota's advertising
of other models is to try and push them off of the dealer's lots!
I just knew you would pull out some such statistic. :) And that's what I like about you. Unlike me you actually know what the heck you are talking about. Everyone should remember that 80% of the time I'm too lazy to adequately research 50% of what I write. However, while my ranking of Prius sales was off, I stand by my original theory. Of the nine vehicles listed, I can't recall seeing a single TV ad identifying any but the top two by name. Which makes perfect sense. If you sold nine widgets and sold two of them at a rate nearly five times greater than the other seven combined, your advertising pattern would likely follow Toyota's. As an example, look at the current Scion rollout. It's all over billboards and magazines, but I've not seen any national TV spots.
Drive happy,
Moo :)
 

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Over in Germany they are advertisine the Prius. The adverts are always associated with hi tech programs aimed at upper middle class. However, there is a 10 month waiting list right now with only 5000 units planned for all of Europe (sales as of 1st May were 2600 units sold).

I dont agree the Prius is a "Beta test". I guess you could argue that was the case with the 1997 Classic in Japan, but its not realistic esp when you think Toyota have been developing hybrids since the 1960's :!: and the Synergy drive is the 3rd generation hybrid (Not second as often quoted which comes fromthe fact this is the second generation of the second generation!)

AFAIKS, the problem wih delivery is that MRT was caught out. They hadnt expected such a demand, and the factory is at capacity on this production line. A new line is being (or has been) fitted out, but it takes time for the line to becoem productive and the cars to get delivered.
 

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I agree and disagree with the basic premise. I do think Toyota was caught off guard by circumstances. And yes they don't have to advertise this car. I do believe that they are moving HSD to the rest of the car line to one degree or another, but I think you will see conventional ICE models next to HSD models for some time particularly at the low and high end. An all HSD fleet is a way off.
That brings me back to the Prius. "To go before" that is, as I understand it, the definition of the word Prius. Toyota clearly has more ambitious plans according to the web site and literature. Perhaps the Prius will continue to be the "public beta" for new technology. Hybrid diesel, fuel cells hydrogen and other wise. How about an alcohol fuel cell for Iowa! Lots of room for early innovators to help out with testing and the Prius "going before" for many years to come till we get to the Back to the Future garbage powered car!
Henry Drygas
 

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Discussion Starter #18
US Toyota passenger car sales, January through the end of May 2004
http://pressroom.toyota.com/photo_libra ... d=20040602

MODEL UNITS SOLD
Camry 176022
Corolla 139669
Prius 17564
Avalon 16948
Scion xB 15259
Scion xA 7796
Celica 4691
Echo 2092
MR2 Spyder 1439

With the Prius as their 3rd best seller (and they'd sell more if they shipped us more), I'd say that Toyota's advertising
of other models is to try and push them off of the dealer's lots!
Now those are some nice statistics. Prius is doing REALLY well (like we didn't already know), selling more units than some established names like Celica and Avalon. But what happened with the Celica? Those numbers are pitiful! If anything is going to be cut, it looks like its going to be Celica; hello Scion tC. The Scion brand (backed by heavy advertising) is doing extremely good and is ate up most of the Echo market as well. I never thought that the Echo was doing bad, I see lots of them on the road. I see about as many Echo as I see Prii (incld new and classics) on the road each day! Scion and its good looks and low price is definately winning over people.

I knew Camry and Corolla are Toyota's best selling cars, but those numbers really put things into perspective. Camry sold 10X more than the number 3 car, which is the Prius!!! If Toyota can bring up production it looks like the Prius has a bright future at this company. It doesn't seem to be any threat to the Camry or Corolla, which holds leads of 158k and 122k units respectively. Things could change once production ramps up.
 

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what I find wierd is that the Toyota Matrix doesn't show up in their monthly sales report... Best that I can figure, the Matrix is considered a trim line of the Corolla, and lumped in with the Corolla sales. What leads me to that: http://pressroom.toyota.com/photo_libra ... d=20040423
 
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