Monday, March 28, 2005

A Strategy to push hybrids

From the WSJ
Gas-electric vehicle technology leader Toyota is using the New York Show to make its most explicit statement yet about how it plans to market hybrid-propulsion systems. At the Lexus stand, Toyota is showing off not only the long-awaited RX400h gas-electric hybrid SUV, but also a gas-electric version of its recently launched GS sedan. Both of these vehicles use hybrid propulsion to achieve V-8 performance with V-6 or better fuel economy. Toyota's bet is that luxury customers, who keep buying more and more horsepower despite higher fuel prices, will be drawn to hybrid technology for guilt-free performance. In the Toyota brand, Toyota will push fuel economy.

Rivals are watching. At Ford, Mark Fields, executive vice president in charge of the auto maker's luxury brands, calls the Volvo brand a logical place for Ford to expand its own gas-electric hybrid offerings. 'We're working on a plan to see if we can get that done,' he says.

Meanwhile, Volvo will promote its 315-horsepower XC90 V-8 model with ads showing Richard Branson blasting off into space.

Toyota has recently announced three or four new hybrid cars and SUVs, and all of them if I remember correctly were in the upper end of the market, which kind of makes sense given the logic talked about here.

UPDATE: Toyota aims to sell 62,000 hybrid SUVs in 2005 (worldwide).


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