With global crises from Japan to the Middle East continuing to roil world oil markets, the need for automobiles that consume less energy has never been more acute. Some of the most exciting lab work is being done in the electric- and fuel cell-car arenas; but the inherent limitation of such cutting-edge propulsion technologies is that, at least initially, very few models are likely to make it on the road due to cost and scalability issues.
2010-2011 Toyota Prius
“Our biggest immediate expansion will be within the Prius family, which in the near term includes the Plug-In and the V wagon, and later a smaller version that we just previewed, the C Concept,” says Prius product manager Doug Coleman.Prius is undoubtedly the star of Toyota’s hybrid show. Of the 3 million Toyota hybrids sold globally, two-thirds have been Prius models. Of those sales, half were made in the U.S. But the company’s has other stars in the wings, namely the Camry and Lexus RX hybrids, which account for 200,000 units each.
2010-2011Toyota Camry Hybrid
“It’s important for us to have cars that easily accommodate people’s
lifestyles, as opposed to us asking people to adapt to our cars,” he
Recently, marketing research firm Synovate released a report noting that few car shoppers understand that a hybrid vehicle contains electric batteries, and a third of respondents didn’t realize the cars use both gasoline and batteries. Coleman says this isn’t a concern.“In the early days, we felt we had to explain to people how Hybrid Synergy Drive worked,” he says. “But now, we rely on the equity of the Prius brand, which stands for a car you are comfortable in that happens to get terrific mileage and have improved emissions. Our message to consumers is simply, ‘Don’t worry about the rest.’ And they seem to love that.”