The Truth About Cars » toyota prius c http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » toyota prius c http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com As Prius Sales Rise, So Do Sales Of The Prius http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/as-prius-sales-rise-so-do-sales-of-the-prius/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/as-prius-sales-rise-so-do-sales-of-the-prius/#comments Fri, 15 Feb 2013 16:07:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477662

Oddly enough, the presence of the roomy Prius V and less costly Prius C have done little to harm the popularity of Toyota’s primary hybrid, the Prius. More accurately, since Toyota introduced the V, C, and Plug-In versions, sales of the core model have done nothing but rise.

Two questions arise. First, to what extent have sales of the Prius risen? Second, what happened that made it possible for Prius sales to have grown as competition became more fierce?

Briefly put, even when excluding its recent additions, the Prius is routinely one of America’s 20 best-selling passenger cars. Sales of the Liftback, which is what Toyota calls the Prius that we know best, rose 15.2% to 147,507 in 2012. Add to that another 12,750 sales of the Prius Plug-In, a car which uses the Liftback’s body.

Toyota USA did manage to sell more Prii in 2007 and 2008 than in 2012, but after three consecutive years under or around 140K units, last year’s Prius climb is meaningful. Moreover, the 15.2% year-over-year growth exceeds the overall market’s 13.4% increase. The Prius Liftback outsold the Chrysler 200, Mazda 3, Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Passat, Kia Soul, Nissan Sentra, and BMW 3-Series last year. (More recently, the Prius quartet outsold the whole Buick division; Cadillac, Audi, and Acura, too, and ranked as America’s 15th-best-selling vehicle line in January.)

We’re long past wondering how Toyota sells tens of thousands of Prii each year. That’s been going on for nearly a decade. Switching from a small sedan to a roomy hatchback played a large role in the transition from niche hybrid to mainstream player. Maintaining affordability helps, too, regardless of how many members of the enthusiast press loathe the car’s sterilized dynamics.

U.S. Prius volume first topped 100,000 units in 2005. But back then, the Prius accounted for 6% of Toyota brand sales. In 2012, the Prius Liftback was worth 8.4% of Toyota brand sales, equal to the Prius’s value to Toyota in the model’s highest-volume year, 2008.

One could have imagined, however, that in 2012, Toyota would have sold more Prii overall, but only because of the addition of the Prius V, Prius C, and Prius Plug-In. And yes, Prius family sales rose 73.4%, an increase of more than 100,000 units compared with 2011, when the family consisted of the Liftback and less than half a year of effort from the Prius V.

In ten months, the Prius C contributed more than 35,000 units. The Prius V added nearly 41,000 more. In theory, the Liftback’s 19,443-unit increase came about not in spite of the C, V, and Plug-In, but because of their debuts. Rather than cannibalizing the conventional Prius, as one might have expected when a more versatile model and a cheaper hatchback were added to the fleet, the Prius Liftback has benefited. Even in Canada, where the Prius V outsells the Prius Liftback, sales of the original have grown quickly, although the Prius family does not have the impact in Canada that it does in the U.S.

Perhaps it’s the marketing dollars spent informing consumers about the new C and V – messaging which, by proxy, marketed the original Prius, too. In addition to the marketing, there’s no doubt that an increased level of competition does wonders for established players, if’n it don’t kill’em.

Just as individual fast food outlets can thrive when positioned next door to one another in a shopping mall’s food court, newfangled automobiles can, periodically, fare better when others roam in the vicinity. The BMW 6-Series, Mercedes-Benz SL, and Porsche 911 all posted above-average increases in 2012. No one model advanced at the expense of the other two. The same thing occurred with the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLK, three German rivals which together grew at an above-average rate.

As for the Prius, not only do the Prius C, slightly more popular Prius V, and Prius Plug-In shine a light on the Prius patriarch, the increased hybrid awareness brought on by gas-electric derivatives of mainstream cars do the same. It seems perfectly reasonable to conclude that the attention we pour out on the Leaf, Volt, Fusion Hybrid, and even the Tesla Model S causes consumers to take a second look at an old darling of the green car fanbase. The result? This car which seemed so alien in 1999 is now as normal and expected as most midsize sedans.

Naturally, there’s a flip side to the coin. Honda Insight sales fell 62% to 5846 units in the U.S. last year.

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Can 187,586 Buyers Be Wrong? Consumer Reports Thinks So http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/can-187586-buyers-be-wrong-consumer-reports-thinks-so/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/can-187586-buyers-be-wrong-consumer-reports-thinks-so/#comments Fri, 10 Aug 2012 17:58:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456115

 

“Just because a car generates a lot of buzz or is a best seller doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for you. The five models here may be on a lot of buyers’ shopping lists, but we suggest you steer clear…”

So says Consumer Reports with respect to their list of “Five popular cars to avoid”. CR says that the vehicles “…didn’t perform well in our testing or they suffer from subpar reliability,” and that’s reason enough to stay away. I’m not entirely convinced.

We at TTAC respect the hell out of Consumer Reports. Unlike other parties in the buff book business, we never crack appliance-related jokes about their testing methods or dismiss them as lab coated slide-ruler jockeys. When they have something to say, we take it seriously.

Whipping boy number one is, of course, the 2012 Honda Civic. There are elements within TTAC who don’t like the car, for valid reasons. But as I explored in a previous column, it does have enough merit that it’s worth buying. And it’s been vetted by my Grandma. CR even recommends the Subaru Impreza over the Honda Civic; make no mistake, it’s a nice car, but there’s no way that they can criticize the Civic’s “mediocre interior” while ignoring the Impreza.

CR also lists the Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Prius c, Ford Edge V6 and Jeep Liberty as vehicles to stay away from. Having had inadequate seat time in them, I can’t say in good faith how accurate these picks are. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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Review: 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/review-2012-mitsubishi-i-miev/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/review-2012-mitsubishi-i-miev/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2012 12:59:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=449294

A rear-wheel-drive four-door hatchback with staggered wheels and a mere 2,579 pounds distributed 45/55. From the folks who gave us the Evo. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? But the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (conversationally referred to as either the “i” OR the “meev”) isn’t that sort of car. Its focus is just as narrow as the Evo’s but could hardly be more different: the cheapest, most energy-efficient electric car you can buy in the United States. How cheap? The i-MiEV’s low-20s price (after a $7,500 tax credit) isn’t much higher than that of a Toyota Prius c, the cheapest, most energy-efficient hybrid.

The Prius succeeded in part because it looked like nothing else. Even the most car-ignorant person can readily identify one. The i-MiEV similarly won’t be confused with any other car. Even the wipers are radically different (the one on the right was bent upwards by engineers, not hooligans). But will Americans identify this ultra-compact egg-on-wheels as a car at all? The Prius c is nearly 20 inches less lengthy than the regular Prius. The i-MiEV (despite sharing a 100.4-inch wheelbase) is another foot shorter still (144.7 vs. 157.3 inches). The Mitsubishi is also over four inches narrower (62.4 vs. 66.7 inches) but nearly seven inches taller (63.6 vs. 56.9 inches). This is after being widened a couple of inches for North America. Road-legal cars with four doors don’t get any smaller in North America. Even SUVs are generally wider than they are tall.

Given the price range, it should come as no surprise that nearly every interior surface save the seats is hard plastic in both cars. The i-MiEV’s interior nevertheless manages to seem much more spartan than the Prius c’s.

Hybrids and electric vehicles often provide detailed feedback on your driving style and energy use. The i-MiEV’s instruments are conventionally-located and very basic, just a speedometer, a fuel gauge, a needle that instantaneously provides feedback on the heaviness of your foot when accelerating and braking (lighter is better), and an exterior temp / distance-to-empty readout. Unlike in the Prius c, Volt, or LEAF there’s no way to evaluate your driving style beyond the current moment or track your efficiency over time.

Due to the Mitsubishi’s tall, narrow body, you sit higher than in the typical car but with a bare minimum of shoulder room. The front seats are very close together. The width increase over the JDM car went into an extra inch between your outside shoulder and the B-pillar, and you’re still very close to the latter. The steering wheel neither tilts nor telescopes. The driver’s seat has a height adjuster, but hardly anyone will use it. Even with the seat in its lowest setting the windshield header intrudes on sightlines far more than the instrument panel does (for this driver of middling height). You’ll be well versed in the contents of the airbag warning label. And you’ll want to stop well short of the mark at traffic signals.

Sitting behind myself in the i-MiEV, my shins graze the front seatbacks. The seat is mounted high off the floor, so I’m reasonably comfortable aside from not having an inch of space to spare. Cargo space is similarly minimal, no surprise given the nearly nonexistent rear overhang. Even a B-Segment Prius c seems spacious compared to the A-segment i-MiEV.

Elsewhere you’ll find zero-to-sixty times for the i-MiEV in the 13-to-15 second range. But it doesn’t seem quite that slow because of the smooth, torquey delivery of the 66-horsepower electric motor. As with other hybrids and electrics, glacial acceleration with the digital speedometer incrementing about once a second just feels right. Those in your rear view mirror may not appreciate such leisurely acceleration, and even a Prius c, with its 11-second 0-60 time, would hand the i its rear in a thoroughly pointless drag race.

Ah, but the fuel economy. I wasn’t able to measure the i-MiEV’s efficiency. The EPA (which tends to be conservative on this metric) says it’ll go 62 miles on a charge while getting the gas equivalent of 126 miles-per-gallon city, 99 highway, and 112 combined. Only the upcoming Honda Fit EV does better, 118 combined, and it will be lease-only. The upcoming Focus EV checks in at 105, and the LEAF at 99. At the average electricity price of 12 cents per kWh, the i-MiEV costs about two dollars to recharge. In my driving the Prius c, with EPA ratings of 53 city, 46 highway, and 50 combined, averaged about 62 miles-per-gallon (additional details and photos here). It might be the most fuel-efficient gas-powered car, but in terms of fuel cost per mile it’s still about double the i-MiEV.

Refueling remains the largest weakness of EVs.  Using a standard outlet, it takes 22.5 hours to recharge the i-MiEV. Spend a grand or two to install a Level 2 (240v) home charger, and charge time drops to seven hours. A Level 3 (480v) charge port is a $700 option. You can’t get a Level 3 charger at home, at least not at a remotely reasonable price. But find a public Level 3 station and charging to 80 percent of capacity (the max with a fast charger) takes only about 30 minutes.

Yes, this is a slow car, but slow cars can be fun to drive, especially if they only weigh about 2,500 pounds (i.e. about 500 pounds less than the regular Prius and about 800 less than the Nissan LEAF). The i’s basic specs are promising. But the combination of an undersquare body with a rear-heavy weight distribution (the motor is in back) must have kept Mitsubishi’s engineers up at night. They didn’t stagger the wheels to enable more aggressive turn exits. Instead, they’ve designed the suspension and undersized the grip-resistant front tires (145/65R15 vs. relatively meaty 175/60R15s on the rear) to force the i-MiEV to start scrubbing towards the outside curb well before it might build up enough lateral force to spin out or roll over. In the 70s on the highway (it tops out at 81) the Mitsubishi feels tippy and skittish. It’s well out of its element (that element being the perpetual gridlock of metro Tokyo, where the i-MiEV compares favorably to minicars never offered in North America). A Prius c is a serene highway cruiser in comparison. Around town both cars actually ride fairly well; neither is remotely punishing or overly floaty.

The Prius c One lists for $19,710, the i-MiEV for $22,475 (after a $7,500 tax credit but before a Level 2 home charger). Even with both cars in their base trim, the Prius c has nearly $1,600 in additional content, as calculated by TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, for a feature-adjusted price difference that exceeds $5,000 once the cost of the home charger is factored in. On top of this, the Prius C performs and handles better, is roomier, and is simply much more like a regular car. You’re spending more and giving up a lot to save perhaps $500 in fuel costs per year.

A problem for both cars: they don’t just compete with each other. For another $4,065 ($2,935 after adjusting for feature differences), you can get the larger and more powerful but nearly as efficient (based on EPA tests) regular Prius instead of a Prius c. For another $6,075 (but only $2,065 after adjusting for feature differences) you can get a Nissan LEAF instead of an i-MiEV. An argument might be made for the Prius c over the regular Prius, as it gets considerably better fuel economy when driven with a feather-light foot and has a more conventional driving position. It’s much harder to justify the i-MiEV over a LEAF, as you must make major sacrifices in just about every area in return for the Mitsubishi’s lower price. If you can afford to spend the extra money, spend it. Or, if you enjoy driving, spend the extra money on gas and get a Ford Focus or Mazda3.

Pat Hennessey of Art Moran Mitsubishi in Southfield, MI, provided the i-MiEV. He can be reached at 248-353-0910.

Toyota provided the Prius c with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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Toyota Asks For More Prius Inventory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/toyota-asks-for-more-prius-inventory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/toyota-asks-for-more-prius-inventory/#comments Fri, 11 May 2012 14:56:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443866

Toyota’s sales forecast of 220,000 Prius models forecast looks like a lowball number now that Toyota has moved 86,000 examples of the hybrid from January to the end of April. Sales of the Prius V and Prius c have helped the nameplate see a 56 percent rise year over year, and now Toyota is clamoring for more units – but it may not get them.

Rising gas prices and new government incentives in Japan may create a situation where Toyota’s US arm may not be able to get enough Prius models. Bob Carter, Toyota’s US sales head, told Just Auto

“We’re tracking well ahead of [220,000]. I’ve ordered additional production. I’m confident we’ll get additional production but globally we’re seeing high demand, particularly in Japan.”

Aside from the Prius V and Prius c, the new plug-in Prius has been enjoying fairly brisk sales despite its reduced EV-only range compared to some other plug-in vehicles. But American appetites for the Prius, whatever you may think of it, apparently aren’t being satiated. Stateside Prius production can’t come soon enough for Toyota.

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Review: 2012 Toyota Prius c http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-2012-toyota-prius-c/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-2012-toyota-prius-c/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 20:25:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438839

In the geek world we have “Moore’s law” which states the number of transistors in ICs will double every two years. In the automotive world we have the bloat law. Every generation of a vehicle will get more powerful, heavier and physically larger than its predecessor, ultimately requiring the manufacturer to design an entirely new, smaller car to fill the void left by the original.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Back in 2001, the original Prius cost $19,995, weighed 2,765lbs and delivered 52/45MPG. Three generations later it costs $24,000, tips the scales at 3,050lbs, yields 51/48MPG and is far more practical for a family of four. Listing for $1,000 less than the original Prius and weighing a svelte 2,500lbs, the baby Prius delivers 53/46MPG of hatchback hybrid love. More important than the weight loss routine is the fact that this new Prius is “only” $4,835 more expensive than the Toyota’s Yaris (the cheapest 5-door economy car in their US lineup.) That might sound like a big chunk of change, but back in 2001, the Prius was $6,591 dearer. We can thank this price difference to Toyota’s continuing efforts to downsize their hybrid system’s footprint and price tag. Speaking of that footprint, the Prius c manages to weigh only 185lbs more than the 5-door Yaris L while the original Prius was 700lbs heavier than the Echo of the era. For once downsizing is progress.

Interior

If you’ve been inside a Prius, the interior will be “déjà vu all over again.” While the shapes look familiar,  few parts are actually shared as the Prii models share the same style sheet but share few major interior trim parts. Personally, I found the traditional shifter and the high-resolution LCD in the dash a significant step-up from the Prius liftback’s low-rent display and awkward joystick. Strangely enough, the Prius c also shares little with the Yaris on which it is based, aside from a passion for hard plastics. Shoppers should know that while all Yaris models have token soft touch bits on the dash, only the top-end Prius c “four” gets some pleather dash yumminess. While some may complain about the hardness of the  surfaces, the fit and finish is above average in the segment (if you exclude the Germans) and the style is less controversial than the Prius liftback.

Infotainment

Being positioned for younger and greener buyers, Toyota offers three different audio systems all with standard Bluetooth phone integration/music streaming and iPod/USB connectivity. The Prius c “one” gets a basic head unit with a small display and four speakers while the Prius c “two” uses the same radio but adds two tweeters up front. As you would expect, browsing an iPhone/iPod with 4,000+ songs on it was a royal pain. Stepping up to the Prius c “three” buys you Toyota’s 6.1-inch unit which Toyota confusingly calls “Display Audio with Navigation and Entune.” Long names aside, the Entune navigation system is an interesting blend of a decent audio head unit and integrated flash-based navigation system with smartphone data and smartphone app integration. While systems like MyFord Touch, or even Toyota’s own higher end nav systems use Sirius or XM satellite radio to deliver data content, the base Entune system pulls this data right off your smartphone using your own data plan. As a result, there’s no need for an XM or Sirius subscription like in other systems. The downside? You can’t access these services without a smartphone, so if you haven’t joined the 21st century and are still using a Motorola StarTac, you won’t be able Bing or OpenTable while you roll.

Drivetrain

Harkening back to the Prius origins isn’t just something I wax poetic about, Toyota did as well resurrecting the original 1.5L engine from the first generation Prius. While the engine is essentially the same it now produces 73HP and 82b-ft of torque, up 3HP due mostly to the removal of all the belt driven accessories including the water pump. Rather than lifting the old Hybrid Synergy Drive from the first gen Prius or borrowing the liftback’s larger transaxle, Toyota designed an all-new unit with smaller motors and considerably smaller packaging. Total system horsepower is rated at 99HP and around 125lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the Prius c’s low curb weight, the power reduction compared to the liftback isn’t obvious, with the Prius c scooting to 60 in just under 11 seconds.

Economy

If you have a Jaguar XFR, you end up flooring the car all the time to listen to the engine snarl. If you have a Prius, you hypermile. Why? Because the whole reason for the Prius’ existence is outstanding fuel economy. On my 53-mile one-way commute, my best observed fuel economy was 66MPG. This was achieved by limiting myself to 62MPH, being gentle with the pedals and keeping my road rage in check. While I may have annoyed myself at the beginning, a courteous driver keeping to just below the speed limit is unlikely to offend anyone else.

Driving the Prius c like a “normal” car (speeds up to 73MPH on the highway, keeping up with traffic and occasionally passing) made my commute average fall to a still respectable 52MPG. Over a full week and  831 miles, my 51MPG average came in just a hair above the EPA’s combined 50MPG score.

While 51MPG may sound “old hat,” the impressive thing the the Prius c maintained this high average while commuting over a 2,200ft mountain pass daily. Your mileage will obviously vary depending on your commute, your driving style and how much you use the A/C. Numbers are worthless without comparison, so here we go. The Prius c delivered 5-10 more MPGs than the Prius liftback on the same commute despite having essentially the same EPA scores (Prius 51/48MPG, Prius c 53/46MPG).

Pricing

Like the Prius, the c comes in numbered packages. “One” is obviously the price leader at $18,950, achieved by “decontetning” niceties like cruise control, cargo area lights, adjustable front headrests, the center armrest and tonneau cover. The $19,900 “Two” adds extra speakers, variable intermittent wipers, 60/40 folding rear seat, cruise control, center armrest and an engine immobilizer-style key. “Three” lists for $21,635 and adds Toyota’s Entune Navigation radio with 6.1-inch touchscreen , XM and HD radio, and “Entune App” capability (Pandora, Bing, etc), keyless entry and keyless go and a telescoping steering wheel. The top-of-the-line “Four” brings 15 inch 8-spoke alloys to the party, “Softex” seats, heated front seats, fog lamps and turn signals in the side mirrors for $23,230. The “Four” can also be equipped with the $850 moonroof and an optional 16-inch alloy wheel and sport steering package for $300 (or $1150 when combined with the sunroof) topping the Prius c out at $24,380 or about the same as a base Prius liftback.

Drive/Handling

The Prius c’s road manners are almost entirely defined by weight and dimensions. To put these factors in perspective, the Prius c is 8 inches shorter than a VW Golf and 235lbs lighter than a Mini coupe (or the same as a soft-top Mazda Miata.) The Prius c’s suspension provides a solid ride that that approaches, but thankfully misses, “bouncy” – unless you buy the optional larger wheels. Unless you plan on being the only person to Autocross your hybrid, steer clear of the 16-inch wheels, as they destroy the ride and significantly enlarge the car’s turning circle from a tight 31.4, to a Buick-like 37.4 feet. With low rolling resistance tires on hand the Prius c isn’t exactly a corner carver, but thanks to the low curb weight it easily holds its own against the 40MPG compacts. Unlike those other compacts however, the Prius c continues to deliver around 30MPG when working the hybrid system hard on mountain roads. The c’s road manners under braking are improved over the liftback, as is pedal feel. While there is still a different feel to the braking versus a non-hybrid vehicle, the system is by far the most natural of Toyota’s fuel sippers. With weight reduction being king, sound isolation was a secondary concern. The Prius c’s cabin isn’t quite as noisy as the Honda Insight or Civic Hybrid, but it isn’t as quiet as some of the non-hybrid competition.

Competition

Toyota is the first to create a five-door hybrid hatchback and as a result competition is somewhat indirect. The Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta SFE, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, and Chevrolet Sonic are the main fuel efficient hatchback competition for the baby Prius.  In a more traditional shape, but similar price point, is the Honda Insight. Because fuel efficiency is the Prius’ game let’s look at the cost of purchase and gasoline (at California prices of $4.20/gallon) over 5 years. In this light, the Hyundai Accent is barely the cheapest to own at $26,095. The Yaris comes in second at $26,100, just $50 less than the Prius c two. How about the others? The Versa would be $2,840 more expensive, the Sonic $3,355 more, and the Insight narrows the gap to $1,500 more over 5 years. (These numbers are based on EPA 2008 scores and a mixture of 45% city driving, 55% highway driving, 15,000 annual miles a year and $4.20/gallon gasoline.) 

The Prius c may be the smallest and cheapest member of the Prius family, but it may also be the best. It preserves the funkiness of the center mount cluster while giving up some quirkiness to convention. Not to mention, excellent fuel economy is addictive. While I may not be willing to get out of my SUV for 30 or 40MPG, 50+ MPG makes the trade something else entirely. It also makes the Yaris redundant. I can’t honestly think of a single reason to get the Yaris over the Prius c, considering that the difference in cost would be made up over the car’s life.  I am frequently asked what my favorite car is, and I don’t know if I have one – but the Prius c, for its reasonable price and high fuel economy, is certainly on the very short list of cars that I would buy myself.

 Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

Battery charged

0-30: 3.5 Seconds

0-60: 10.78 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 18 Seconds @ 75MPH

Battery discharged

0-30: 4.05 Seconds

0-60: 13.02 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 19.05 @ 72MPH

Average fuel economy: 51.6 over 831 miles

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Generation Why: A Few Takeaways From A Dumb Marketing Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/generation-why-a-few-takeaways-from-a-dumb-marketing-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/generation-why-a-few-takeaways-from-a-dumb-marketing-study/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 18:02:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=427356

Since many of you old-timers see us young folks as self-absorbed brats, I decided I wouldn’t spam TTAC with my “angry young man” rants too often – but today is a special case, with the results of a Deloitte study on Gen Y being released. As you’d guess, they are about as accurate as Toyota’s notion that consumers aged 18-30 would want to buy boxy subcompacts that they can customize.

According to the study, Generation Y wants hybrids, safety and in-car connectivity. Ok, not so far fetched. We care about the environment, we don’t want to die in car crashes and we like smart phones. A close reading of the article reveals some of the study’s “findings” to be dubious at best. I’d love to know how much this study cost, and whether automakers are seeing a good ROI on it after 4 years of running it. If it has anything to do with the launch of the Fiesta movement (which got millions of “social media impressions” but didn’t really help sales), or Chevrolet paying some middle-aged douchebag to kickflip a Sonic or the dumb commercials Toyota is running for the Yaris using the now lame and pandering term “epic”, then it’s money wasted that could be spent developing cars that aren’t completely lame. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but if this is what auto makers are seriously using, then no wonder they can never seem to get youth marketing right.

1) “Gen Y consumers are willing to spend more than $3,000 for hardware that delivers connectivity, said Joe Vitale, global automotive sector leader for Deloitte’s parent company, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. “

More than $3,000? What kind of preposterous figure is this? Do these marketing executives realize how much $3,000 is to someone working retail or an entry-level office job making $30,000? The only explanation I can muster is that the survey respondents are totally disconnected to reality, or the results were fudged. I don’t know a single person who would spend over $3,000 to have their $200 smart phone and $200 iPod connect with a $16,000 car. That $3,000 is a few months rent or mortgage payments, a year or so of electricity, cable and cell phone bills, a hell of a lot of groceries, a supercharger kit for a sport compact or the bridge between a new compact and a new mid-size car. If this is what automakers are relying on when planning the next generation of cars, they need to fire whatever half-wit consultants they are employing yesterday. God forbid I ever sit in on a youth marketing seminar and hear figures like this thrown around.

2) The survey found that 57 percent of Gen Y consumers expressed an interest in hybrid vehicles; 2 percent were interested in pure battery vehicles; and 37 percent favored vehicles with a traditional gasoline-only powertrain.

Note, “expressed an interest” in no way means “I will buy a hybrid for my next vehicle” let alone “I will only consider a hybrid.” I am interested in hybrids. Just this morning I thought that the Prius V looks kind of cool.. Would I end up buying a hybrid? Probably not, and I’m not alone in feeling that way. A base model Prius c costs $19,000 and gets 53/46 mpg while a fully loaded Hyundai Accent gets 30/40 mpg and costs $16,795. Yes, the city fuel economy is much better, but will the savings in fuel really justify the price premium? I suspect that when there’s real money on the table, only the die-hard status-seeking snobs will go for the hybrid while most others will opt for a traditional gasoline car.

3) Fifty-nine percent ranked in-dash technology as the most important part of a vehicle’s interior and almost three-quarters of all respondents sought touch-screen interfaces.

I suspect this comes from the prevalence of touch screen smart phones, where your undivided attention is focused on using the touch screen. While you’re driving, these systems are a pain in the ass for the motorist (I’ve heard many iPhone users remark that texting-while-driving is impossible with an iPhone, so it’s not all bad). The other much discussed problem is that these systems never work properly and people inevitably go back to the tried-and-true auxiliary cable input.

4) The survey also found Gen Y consumers are willing to spend an extra $2,000 for a bundle of safety features such as collision avoidance systems, blind spot detection and sleep alert systems, the survey found. Said Giffi: “They’re wholly acknowledging that distracted driving is an issue but they’re not saying that they want to be any less connected in the car.” “It’s almost as if they’re saying ‘I’m going to be distracted, so I want the car to give me protection from myself,’” Giffi said. “The safety technology they want is the next generation of accident-avoidance technology.”

So, the solution to people texting and driving is to throw in more electronic nannies to enable this behavior by making it easier to avoid an accident? Sounds like the indulgent helicopter parenting that has poisoned a lot of my generation. I wish we could stigmatize distracted driving like we did to drunk-driving. By the way, the shame of telling friends you got into a car accident because you were texting is way worse than not being able to update your Facebook status about how much you love the new Flo Rida song.

 

 

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