Toyota Takes the Hybrid Uptown

Lexus wants to put eco bragging rights into the driveways of socially conscious rich people who also want some zoom in their rides, Jeremy Cato writes.

Published: 27-Feb-2005

KOHALA COAST, ISLAND OF HAWAII  -- With the shimmering Pacific Ocean on our left and the hard-working town of Hilo up ahead -- yes, in Hawaii the residents work hard to keep tourists happy -- Stephen Beatty is revealing the truth about hybrid cars. At least as Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand see them.

"We know what people will pay to be environmentally friendly, which is nothing," says Beatty, Toyota Canada managing director. "But we also know people are willing to pay for performance and they are willing to pay for fuel economy because they can see the savings at the pump. So that is what guides our strategy."

Selling "green" technology on its performance and fuel economy advantages makes sense, although a recent Harris Interactive survey found consumers are willing to pay some sort of price to be environmentally friendly. In fact, consumers say fuel-saving technologies are the advanced technology they would most likely pay extra for in their next vehicle.

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