Toyota to get influencers' help in promoting hybrid

TORRANCE, CA: Toyota Motor Sales USA has begun a multi-city key-influencer tour to tout its new Prius gas-electric hybrid car.

TORRANCE, CA: Toyota Motor Sales USA has begun a multi-city key-influencer tour to tout its new Prius gas-electric hybrid car.

The Engine of Change tour is targeting government officials, environmental activists, and others considered to be key influencers of consumers likely to consider buying a new Prius, said Mike Michels, national manager of external communications with Toyota Motor Sales. Toyota is working with Golin/Harris International on the tour.

Toyota plans to hold regional press briefings in about 15 cities, such as New York, Boston, Miami, and Detroit.

"With this generation of Prius, from a marketing standpoint, we think we're going from early adapters to the early majority," a group that can be reached through key influencers, Michels explained.

The new Prius is a successor to a Prius Toyota first launched in the US in 2000. It uses a combination of gas and electric engines to achieve higher mileage than similar-size gas-only cars, and is a low-emissions vehicle.

The new model is larger than the first Prius and, at 60mpg, gets better mileage than its predecessor as well.

Toyota has received widespread media coverage for being a leader in hybrid technology, which is something US automakers will begin featuring next year. That will be a full four years after Toyota brought it to the US.

Michels said Toyota sees the Prius as part of its long-term commitment to environmental issues, but the car also sports a variety of engineering and other features than reinforce Toyota's image as a leader in auto technology.

PR will play up those features, as well as the hybrid characteristics of high mileage and low emissions.

Toyota hopes to sell 36,000 of the new cars annually in the US. The new Prius went on sale in the US on October 17.

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