Daily Podcast: The Future, By Prius Engagement

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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daily podcast the future by prius engagement

And so it continues: the debate about the Toyota Prius as a fuel saver/economy car/green badge of honor/etc. over on Captain Mike's review. Sammy Hagar's off-hand comment about the Prius cannibalizing Camry sales intrigued me. For some strange reason– not anti-Detroit bias I can assure you (if you can be assured)– I'd never thought of the Prius as a cannibal. But it makes perfect (imperfect?) sense. If you're in the market for "inexpensive, efficient, reliable transportation that makes you feel good about not driving anything else," why wouldn't you choose the Prius over the Camry? Or, for that matter, the Camry over the Prius? We've heard rumors that ToMoCo's going to launch the Prius as a fourth brand. On one hand, yes. On the other hand, uh-oh. Toyota's entirely useless Scion brand (remind me again what PRODUCT-related focus they bring to the table) is one GM-style branding mistake. Launching a Prius brand would be another. In fact, it looks to me like Toyota could, some day, maybe, not beyond the scope of possibility, become the new GM (especially when the old GM goes C11). Hey, empires rise, empires fall. C'est la guerre.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Thoots Thoots on May 17, 2008

    Oh, gosh. Sure, Prius gets buyers from all over the spectrum. But, as compared to the Camry, it's mostly about COMFORT. Oh, you want an eight-way adjustable power seat? Don't go looking for one in a Prius. Want a smoother ride or better handling? Try a Camry XLE or SE, instead of a Prius. In the end, there's a big difference between the two cars, even including the hybrid Camry....

  • Robert Farago Robert Farago on May 18, 2008

    You guys have got me thinking. And the more I think about this, the more I think Toyota's created a monster... Using Mr. Karesh's most excellent car price comparison tool, base to base, the Camry CE is $1200 cheaper than the Prius. Never mind the respective technologies or mpgs. That's too small a gap for two models sold by the same company. What to do? Kill the Camry? That would be nuts. Kill the Prius? Also nuts. Put the Prius' Syngery Drive into the Camry? Again, nuts. And done. And that car's only $2k MORE than the Prius (TD invoice price). The only solution I can think of: take the Prius upmarket. Supposedly, there's a Lexus Prius on its way-- which doesn't do nothin' to resolve the overlap at Toyota. And how the Hell can you make a luxury Prius without adding weight, losing mileage and, thus, removing its raison d'etre? Honestly, this one's going to be a bitch to resolve. Maybe it IS time to write an article about Toyota becoming the next GM.

  • Stingray Stingray on May 18, 2008
    Robert Farago "Honestly, this one’s going to be a bitch to resolve. Maybe it IS time to write an article about Toyota becoming the next GM" +1 But also add the raise of Hyundai to give it more context. Toyota right now fears how fast the Koreans are raising. Compare Toyota and GM on divisions creation, market share 50's (GM) 10's (Toyota), cars for every purse and purpose (both, Toyota is doing it right now), etc... then put Hyundai in the comparo... I think 800 word won't cut it, so maybe splitting it in 3 or 4 parts may suffice, or better yet, can be a short series of 10 or 20 "episodes". To solve the Pruis/Camry apparent conflict is not so hard... 1st they are supposed to work for different targets, 2nd, pricewise... it's not moving the Pruis upmarket, they should move it downmarket, maybe between Corolla and Camry or on par to Corolla (this may be the 21st century Corolla) to massify it a lot more, get more money and do what The Brain tells Pinky they will do this night: "dominate the world" =)
  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on May 18, 2008

    RF, Just like GM of the sixties, it's not a problem because they have the volume. The difference will be when one of them is getting challenged in sale. That's when Toyota will pull the plug on one, if not before. Something will change. Either having an ugly hybrid as a badge of honor will lose it's appeal, or whatever. They may take the Prius up market, or they may create a scion like brand. I think just because they make some moves similar to GM it does not mean they will have the same results.