Toyota got caught up in the American car debacle at the same time as it was doing some amazing things with the Prius. I was down in TX last year and promotion for the Toyota Tundra was everywhere. The gas-guzzling truck, positioned for the good ol’ boys, sucked lots of money out of the Toyota coffers and contributed to a worldwide loss of $4.4B (sounds very GM-like). Since its inception, the Prius, now in its third generation, has sold only 1.2 million vehicles. That number could have been multiplied by 10 had Toyota not gone all pick-up truck on us.
That said, the latest Prius has one thing that sets it apart form the new Honda Insight, a competing hybrid priced to move: solar cells on the roof. This cool differentiating technology will help power an advanced new ventilation system that is pure marketing genius. Marketing and branding are all about “claim” and “proof.” And whether the solar thingies works or not – and I’m sure they will – it is yet more proof that Prius is a technological leader in fuel efficient cars. Toyota needs to follow the example of Ichiro and keep its eye on the ball. Peace!