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Toyota to Dealers: Slow Down! Plus Demo Fleets Explained

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  • Felix Kramer
    We re informed by Eric Doebert of Magnussen Toyota that after taking deposits from several dozen customers, the dealer heard from HQ that since there s no
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2 1:38 PM
      We're informed by Eric Doebert of Magnussen Toyota that after taking
      deposits from several dozen customers, the dealer heard from HQ that
      since there's no announced timetable for production of vehicles, it
      didn't make sense for Magnussen to keep deposits (even if they were
      refundable). The deposits will be returned and the dealer has instead
      begun a waiting list.

      By the way, our headline says Dealers, because it turns out there are
      at least two. At the end of last week, we heard that Matthew Meyer,
      Sales Manager at Toyota San Luis Obispo, that his dealership in fact
      had begun taking orders before Magnussen in Palo Alto. Since there's
      a national waiting lists run by GM-Volt.com for the Volt that's
      approaching 40,000, we think it would make sense if you're interested
      in a PHEV from Toyota to ask your dealer to start a waiting list as well.

      We think this is all helpful. Both the company to dealer actions and
      the public comments show how Toyota is paying careful attention to
      its customers. Below you can read what the always genial Irv Miller,
      VP of Communications, has to say about dealers taking orders for a 2010 PHEV.

      That's followed by an excellent explanation from Earth2Tech about why
      demonstration fleets make sense. We hope the carmakers will take the
      next step, with broader demonstration programs, selling limited
      numbers of "good enough" version 1.0 products not just to a few
      selected fleets but to larger populations that want to help them make
      better products!


      Toyota Open Road Blog
      August 29, 2008 - Irv Miller, Group Vice President, Corporate Communications
      The Plug-in Prius: Waiting is the Hardest Part for Dealers and Customers
      http://blog.toyota.com/2008/08/the-plug-in-pri.html

      There's a lot of excitement these days among our customers and
      dealers about plug-in hybrid vehicles. Earlier this week, Toyota's
      Global President, Katsuaki Watanabe, announced that we are moving up
      our timetable from 2010 to early 2009 to deliver test Prius plug-in
      hybrids to commercial fleet customers in the United States and other
      parts of the world.

      A lot of people can't wait to try them, so it's understandable that
      one of our dealers created some confusion recently by taking deposits
      on future Prius plug-in hybrids.

      Although we hope some day to sell plug-in hybrids to retail
      customers, the only thing we have announced is that we will place
      several hundred plug-in Prius vehicles in commercial fleets by the
      end of next year.

      As much as we want to speed the latest hybrid technology to the
      public, we have vowed as a company to not release new systems until
      they are reliable and ready for everyday use. One of the best ways to
      help ensure that is through rigorous testing in fleets that do a
      tremendous amount of driving in all types of weather and road conditions.

      Magnussen's Toyota in Palo Alto, California was doing what we've
      always encouraged our dealers to do...to listen carefully to their
      customers and try to meet their needs. Being so close to Silicon
      Valley, the dealership was getting lots of requests from customers
      who wanted to buy a plug-in Prius. And since the dealership had
      confidence Toyota would eventually deliver a great vehicle, they
      thought it would be a good idea to take deposits and make customers happy.

      So, while we applaud Magnuessen's excitement about our future Prius
      plug-in, we want to be clear that we have not announced a timetable
      for retail sales.

      Believe me, Toyota will get there as soon as we can. It just may not
      happen as quickly as we'd all like it to happen. In the meantime,
      we're very proud that Magnuessen's Toyota intends to return the
      deposits it has collected from customers hoping to be the first to
      buy a plug-in Prius. Soon, we hope they will be able to call those
      customers back and offer them the real thing.



      Toyota, GM Push Electric Vehicle Test Fleets In Order to Beat the Crowd
      Written by Tony Borroz
      http://earth2tech.com/2008/09/01/toyota-gm-push-electric-vehicle-test-fleets-in-order-to-beat-the-crowd/

      Major automakers might say that there isn't a race involved in who
      delivers their electric vehicles first, but we know that's about as
      true as John Edward's initial claims of marital fidelity. Toyota
      recently announced that its plug-in Prius will be coming to market in
      2009 in the form of commercial test fleets, instead of the previously
      announced 2010 date. GM has also said that it will have its
      anticipated Chevy Volt available in commercial test fleets in 2009,
      with consumer availability in 2010.

      Why are Toyota and GM using this strategy? It all boils down to
      product testing and quality assurances, as well as the appearance of
      an earlier market time than the rest of the crowd. As Irv Miller,
      Group Vice President, Corporate Communications for Toyota says:

      "As much as we want to speed the latest hybrid technology to the
      public, we have vowed as a company to not release new systems until
      they are reliable and ready for everyday use. One of the best ways to
      help ensure that is through rigorous testing in fleets that do a
      tremendous amount of driving in all types of weather and road conditions."

      The strategy of delivering test commercial fleets before a consumer
      launch is tried and true and has worked for decades. Think of it this
      way: Consider how much of a pounding your average taxi goes through
      in a week, versus what you do to a car in a week. Fleet use is a
      pretty good crucible to see what works and what doesn't in the cars a
      lot of us might end up owning.

      So in 2010 when two of the most highly-anticipated cars in recent
      memory hopefully land in our driveways, they'll already have had a
      year's worth of in-the-field testing. The cars will be soaked by
      rains, driven through pot holes, slammed, bashed and generally
      abused, all to the very good end of seeing what breaks, and then
      upgrading those parts before the cars are available for people like
      us to buy. Expectations and demand are high for these cars; there are
      reports that some people are already putting down deposits to buy the
      new plug-in Prius when it does hit the streets.

      Then there are the bragging rights Toyota and GM earn for touting the
      year 2009, instead of 2010. That's because there's a legion of green
      cars coming out in two years time. Beyond the plug-in Prius and the
      Chevy Volt, there are offerings from Nissan, Zenn, Think, Mitsubishi,
      Mazda (and therefore, Ford), Ferrari, Mercedes and VW. The next few
      years are going to be very important for these companies -- and very
      interesting for green car watchers.


      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      http://www.calcars.org
      http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html
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