Toyota introduces fuel-cell car to press, early adopters

Toyota is planning to educate consumers and members of the media on the environmental and functional benefits of its fuel-cell vehicle concept that it will bring to market next year.

TORRANCE, CA: Toyota is planning to educate consumers and members of the media on the environmental and functional benefits of its fuel-cell vehicle concept that it will bring to market next year.

The hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle, which only creates an emission of water vapor, made its North American debut at CES on Monday after being unveiled in Japan at the Tokyo Motor Show last November.

“Keeping the buzz going for the next few months is going to be critical because we're not going to have vehicles for people to drive for several months,” explained Jana Hartline, environmental communications manager at Toyota Motor Sales USA.

She added that the company is looking at a wide range of creative ways to “keep the level of excitement high, and more importantly use that opportunity to educate consumers about this technology.”

Going forward, the company will use a mix of traditional media, social media, video assets, infographics, and potential paid media elements to spread the word about the fuel-cell vehicle.

The automaker has already launched a fuel-cell section of its website, where consumers can sign up and receive information about the vehicle. The site also offers details about Toyota's history in fuel-cell development, which began in 1992.

Another key promotional element for sustaining buzz will be getting a variety of media members to test-drive the vehicles as soon as they are available, said Hartline.

She added that Toyota is managing focus groups to identify the target consumer for the fuel-cell vehicle, but the company expects that audience to be “pretty tech-savvy people and early adopters.”

“When we launched Prius in 2000, we were looking at really tech-savvy customers who do their own research, care about the environment, and want to be on the cutting edge of new technology. We anticipate that we're going to see a lot of the same customers for the fuel-cell vehicle,” Hartline explained.

At CES, Toyota showcased a test vehicle and a show car to highlight the work engineers did in logging tens of thousands of miles in test versions and taking them to extreme environments to make sure they could handle all conditions. The company has not set a price range for the vehicle. The company is working with GolinHarris on outreach.

The carmaker has also leveraged its social channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ to introduce the vehicle, which has a target range of 300-plus miles and can refuel in three to five minutes.

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