Toyota had a lot of things going for it that allowed for the Prius to enjoy the success that it did. While the Honda Insight hybrid hit the market first, the Prius was built more like a regular vehicle (reg seating and trunk space!) than an experiment. Hitting the market second allowed Toyota to look at the features and mistakes of the Insight and adjust its warranties accordingly. The use of an internet ordering function allowed Toyota to see where demand was highest before the car arrived so it could market to the cities with the highest demand.
Another factor was celebrity endorsement-Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio both bought Priuses, and the car became an icon, a sort of fashion statement that no other hybrid has lived up to. The jump in Prius sales in 2008 is of course attributed to elevated gas prices. By that time the Prius was already well-known as an eco-friendly vehicle, and people just jumped on the bandwagon. It’s going to take a really good new hyrbid (or electric!) to steal some of the Prius’s thunder.
Marketing, advertising, and affordability for the average Joe.
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