Posted by Dale Buss on October 22, 2012 01:13 PM
The market for all-electric cars continues to slump, with the bankruptcy filing of one of its largest suppliers of batteries, struggles for Nissan's Leaf, and the continued difficulty of the top end of the EV market, Fisker, to get over the hump.
But meanwhile, the market for hybrids continues to brighten — espeically if that hybrid has a Prius nameplate. Toyota continues to extend its dominance of the hybrid-electric market by promoting its Prius family of four models. Having left its competitors' hybrids in the relative dust, Toyota now is girding for an effort by Ford to plug (so to speak) its own hybrid-only sub-brand, C-Max.
In fact, Prius now is doing so well in America's biggest hybrid market, California, that it has passed long-time leaders Honda Civic and Honda Accord to become the No. 1-selling vehicle line of any kind in the state.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 11, 2012 04:03 PM
These are rough times for the electric-vehicle business, despite sky-high gasoline prices, extensive marketing of EVs, and a continual drumbeat of support by the news and entertainment media and governments at all levels.
Nissan has become so concerned about lackluster sales of its all-electric Leaf that it is trimming the price on its 2013 model. Ford is in no hurry to invest marketing resources in the launch of its new Focus Electric. And Toyota — which can count on the success of its Prius hybrid brand instead — has all but forsworn any significant EV presence in the market for at least the next few years.
Why? Despite incredible marketing investment and societal pressure thrown behind getting car-buyers to adopt all-electric vehicles, American consumers by and large are resisting the very notion of EVs. A new study even casts doubt on the net environmental benefits of electric cars, depending on how the power to charge their batteries is produced.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 10, 2012 09:02 AM
7-Eleven, JetBlue and Bliss go presidential with "poll" promotions as Pizza Hut comes up with a controversial dare ahead of next week's debate.
Toyota recalls 7.4 million vehicles globally for power-window glitch and 2.5 million Lexus vehicles, as it plugs Prius on the Home Shopping Network.
Samsung signs TV deal with Spotify.
BAE and EADS terminate merger talks.
Bain Capital buys maker of Craftsman Tools.
Ballmer touts new era at Microsoft as bonus trimmed.
Cadbury tells bishop it's not precious about purple.
Chevron is rejected by Supreme Court in Ecuadorian case.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 5, 2012 05:09 PM
In taking on the Prius brand, king of the hybrid mountain, Ford has launched a daring first TV-advertising campaign for the 2013 C-Max hybrid. But it might even be more clever than it is daring. In TV spots that debuted this week, Ford uses an old school but eye-catching 2-D animation technique (and a character who's familiar at least to the rest of the world) and directly compares the new vehicle to Toyota's Prius v.
The first commercial highights MPB by showing "Mr. Linea," a line-drawn character from a classic Italian TV series, outpacing a Prius v in his zippy new C-Max.
Another of the spots, called "Say Wheeee," plays up horsepower, showing him jumping out of his Prius v, kicking it in frustration after being passed by other traffic, and then hopping into a C-Max newly drawn by the cartoonist — then zipping past the Prius v and other vehicles.
A third, called "Be Great," shows off the C-Max hands-free lift gate feature ... before the vehicle zips past a car shaped like (you guessed it) a Prius v.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 4, 2012 03:03 PM
"Lightning rod" no longer suffices to suffice to describe the platform for controversy that the Chevrolet Volt has become in its two-year history on the market. Maybe someday Volt will simply serve as its own metaphor for a brilliant but troubled car — like "DeLorean."
That's not to say that it's not successful — indeed, the Volt has expanded its lead, as Bloomberg reports, "as the top-selling U.S. rechargeable car this year as Toyota expanded plug-in Prius deliveries and Nissan said it's working to boost electric Leaf sales." Chevy sold 2,851 Volts in September; Nissan sold 984 Leafs; it wasn't clear how many of Toyota's mearly 19,000 Prius sales were plug-ins, but certainly it was a small percentage.
Even so, Chevrolet CMO Chris Perry is having to defend the recent ramping up of sales incentives that the brand is using to entice consumers and dealers into moving more units of the plug-in hybrid nameplate.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 24, 2012 02:17 PM
When it comes to hybrids, Toyota is saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if it's a winning formula, don't alter it — double down.
That's why Toyota Motor Corp. on Monday announced (in a press conference and release titled: "TMC Announces Status of Its Environmental Technology Development, Future Plans") a drastic scaling back, close to an abandonment, of its all-electric vehicles — the iQ and eQ EV models — in favor of a dramatic ramping up of its plans for developing and producing new hybrids.
"Toyota’s engineers have been involved in Electric Vehicle (EV) research and development for over 40 years, since 1971," Toyota's press site notes. "Developed in parallel with the company’s pioneering full Hybrid (HV), Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) and Fuel Cell (FCV) vehicles, the EV represents Toyota’s long-term vision for short range sustainable mobility."
It turns out that long-term vision was more short-term than anticipated when it comes to EVs.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 7, 2012 03:07 PM
In June Consumer Reports knocked the Scion IQ as "slow, uncomfortable and noisy." Now it's bearing down on a few more auto brands, including some of the the most popular and even iconic nameplates in the U.S. auto industry, in its latest evaluation of vehicles that might disappoint car-buyers.
Honda Civic, Toyota Prius c, Jeep Liberty, Ford Edge and Dodge Grand Caravan are the five models evaluated by the highly regarded magazine as "popular cars to avoid." As part of its September issue look at the best and worst new cars, the magazine concedes that the vehicles, some of them among the biggest sellers now and even for decades, "may be on a lot of buyers' shopping lists, but we suggest you steer clear." The reasons: They didn't test well or have poor reliability, or both.
CR's gripes with each model:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 8, 2012 12:57 PM
Toyota Prius has it all over Chevrolet Volt as a brand these days except among a rabid core of Volt fans who believe the car is the greatest thing since the Model T. But at least in one area, General Motors has won bragging rights for now for its Volt over a Prius model: the mileage and range of the apples-to-apples versions of each product line.
GM, which is featuring "Happy Volt Owners" in a new online video push on its YouTube channel, said this week that changes to the battery of the Volt will extend the range of the 2013 model to 38 miles on a single charge, an increase of three miles. And its "mpg-equivalent" — a term the auto industry and regulators have come up with to try to help consumers understand how little gasoline they're using in hybrids compared with conventional vehicles — will rise to 98 miles from 94 when it goes on sale in August.Continue reading...