Lets do some word association. We'll start with the word "hybrid." We're guessing most of you thought of the Prius -- understandable considering Toyota's dual-powered hatch defined the gas-electric market and accounts for the majority of the segment's sales. The next words are "Synergy Drive." Not nearly recognizable to the average car buyer, and that's a problem according to Toyota dealer Earl Stewart. Stewart told Auto Week that the Synergy Drive badging on the Camry and Highlander doesn't do much for consumers -- let alone brand image -- but a plan was reportedly discussed with dealers during a recent meeting in Las Vegas just might do the trick.
Stewart claims that Toyota is looking to slap the Prius name on a family of hybrid models in the future, and he told AW that the plan would work because, "If somebody says 'I drive a Prius,' everybody knows what he means." Stewart adds that while the Prius name could make its way onto the rear of several vehicles, it won't become its own sub-brand like Scion. Toyota COO Jim Lentz has reportedly been pushing for a multi-vehicle Prius lineup for over a year, but AW reports that the Vegas meeting was the first time the plans were discussed in front of Toyota Motor Sales president Yoshi Inaba and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.
It's unclear whether all Toyota-branded hybrids would receive the Prius name, but the move makes sense as most Americans associate the Prius name with hybrids. On the other hand, calling a Camry hybrid the Camry Prius could be as confusing as an Abbott and Costello routine.
[Source: Auto Week]