Scion-ara to Toyota Branding?
First, Toyota decides it needs a U.S. luxury brand. It builds an S-Class killer, then repackages its mass market products for upmarket tastes. Then ToMoCo decides it needs a U.S. “youth brand.” It imports quirky, customizable, low-cost Japanese market vehicles; then sells them to older people (and repackages them for their in-house designers’ college professors). Now the world’s largest automaker’s talking [again] about launching a Prius brand. “You could have a series of derivatives under the Prius brand name that would allow you to market product at a much lower cost,” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American sales chief, told the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit. “There is a definite desire for us to do that.” Internally or externally? Or was this announcement simply designed to steal some thunder from GM’s Volt-shaped one hundredth birthday bash? After all, on the same day that GM said they wouldn’t make money on gen 1 of their plug-in electric – gas hybrid Hail Mary, Toyota said they’re aiming to sell 175k Priora stateside this year. Before the Ole Miss Prius factory comes on line. “Overall, Toyota aims to sell more than 1 million hybrids per year globally by early next decade, and would need to sell more than 600,000 hybrid vehicles of all types in the United States to meet that target, Lentz said. “To do that effectively, I think we need dedicated hybrids and I would prefer them under the Prius name,” said Lentz. So what happens to the hybrid Camry, Highlander, LS, etc.?
Toyota launching another brand? I wonder if this PR flack guy is the one who thought up the Scion brand as well? "Prius" is a car, not a brand. Prius would end up selling very efficient versions I guess of what is down at the Toyota dealer. Sounds like a way to cannibalize yourself, the comparisons to GM are easy to see, but what's strange is that GM got to the top (so long ago) with five brands. Toyota has gotten to the top with basically one brand. Why Toyota would seek to imitate their biggest competitor's biggest mistakes now is strange indeed. I wonder which Chinese company is going to be eating Toyota's lunch twenty years from now?
I'll throw out another GM sub-brand for comparison - Chevelle. You could get a coupe, convertible, sedan, wagon, or El Camino, but they were all Chevelles, with the same front ends and most of the same engine choices. Done like this, it could work. My first car was a Chevelle Malibu 4-door that I got from my brother when he bought a Cutlass Calais. Interesting contrast.
I've wondered why Gm didn't do different vehicles like this instead of rebranding (rebadging) the same vehicles as a product of multiple divisions (same car, different name brands). See Aveo/G3, Cobalt/G5, etc. I suppose I ought to accept the situation and look at them as different trim packages on the same vehicle. Never mind one is a Pontiac and the other is a Chevy. I'll learn to be happy with 5 different Priuses if they are different vehicles = minivan, roadster, pickup, delivery hatchback (paneled hatchback), sedan, etc.