If you’ve switched on the news recently, you know that Toyota has been having some serious issues. Recalls on tens of thousands of its vehicles have other auto manufacturers reaping the benefits of Toyota’s misfortunes. Even here at Peachy Green, we discussed the fact that the auto manufacturer was one of a few that had decided against 100% electric cars.
All that aside, I have to say that this past weekend, I was impressed by one of Toyota’s new approaches to boost consumer confidence. I’d also have to say that its pretty effective marketing. While many know about the eco-friendly aspects of the Toyota Prius, you many not be aware of other Toyota hybrids.
We were walking into a shopping mall in Olympia, Washington on Sunday morning. Someone in a Toyota cap approached us and asked if we owned or had driven a Toyota. The four of us responded, “nope.” For the offer of $10 (each) in free Best Buy gift cards, we could go and test drive one of several Toyota hybrid vehicles. Were we interested?
Pausing for a moment, I spoke for the group – yes!
It took about 15 minutes total, and we were all very pleasantly surprised. At a kiosk in the mall parking lot, we all handed over our drivers licenses, which were scanned. We decided who would drive and the rest of us would be passengers. Toyota then gave us coded wrist bands to wear.
About 30 feet away, the fleet awaited. We chose a hybrid Toyota Camry to test drive. My mom got behind the wheel, we had a salesperson in front and two of us sat in the back seat.
Our first surprise was the fact that the car was already on and idling when we got in. You would never have even heard it! The 2010 Toyota Camry was a smooth, silent ride. Our sales person gave us a general overview of the features and gas mileage. Close to 40 mpg both in city and on the highway, the hybrid vehicle is recharged through kinetic energy when braking (which explains the very small discrepancy between in city and highway miles per gallon).
Get the consumers in the cars and show them how great they are. Its a great way for Toyota to push its hybrid vehicles!
We learned that in March 2010, Toyota Prius will be offered in a hybrid electric vehicle version. In other words, it will be a plug-in version that can switch from electric to gasoline on the fly. Although its not 100% electric, it is a big step up for Toyota, particularly for increasing consumer confidence.
Long story short, in a short 20 minutes, we were able to register, test drive, answer some brief survey questions, and then walk away with $40 in gift certificates just for our time. Not only were we impressed by Toyota’s generosity, but it was great to have the no-pressure opportunity to drive one of its cars without the sales pressure.
Now, we’ll go out and spread the positive news of our experience. Just as I’m doing here….
Toyota may have some serious issues in consumer confidence right now, but its doing just the right thing to spread the positive news of its eco-friendly cars. Don’t you agree?