“THE HYBRID IMAGE CHALLENGE”
Edoardo Pandolfini Barberi Coventry 14:30 25/10/2013
The brand Toyota is perceived by press and public as an innovative marque. From one side new vehicles are conceptualized by taking risks. On the other, future products are studied to find a new futuristic way of transportation. For example recently in 2008 the (i-Real “Personal Mobility Concept”) was introduced. Making an impression on Medias that was very good for Toyota’s brand image but on the other hand because this mobile chair was so far ahead of its time, was not comprehended by the public. This concept gave an insight of how modern cities could probably have probably dealt with mobility. Imagine the total absence of vehicles in city centres and the possibility to move with i-Real. The vehicle itself, battery powered could have gradually lowered the rear wheel and therefore inclined backwards the entire seat to a maximum speed of 18.6 mph.
But this effort was not wasted because although the “i-Real” was a showcase, the technology was a starting point that resulted in the “i-Road”. In this new concept presented in Geneva in 2012, the rear wheel has the same function to steer the vehicle but not to incline it. The front wheels instead have a specific Joke feature that allows the cabin to tilt from side to side like a motorcycle but without the risk of falling on one side. The “i-Road” is designed to give a fresh dynamic approach to the driving experience. The company image when will be leased for a start in Grenoble and Toyota city will benefit to the extent of advertising the brand. Therefore when public will consider its practicality and function to the extent of seeing benefits from the use of “i-Road” will then perceive Toyota as an innovative brand. Initial specification gives a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 28 mph. Moreover the integrated roof and doors will allow riding without helmet.
Toyota aims to lead and anticipate in technology with modern design are always very high. Even if in case not successful in the market, their philosophy is based on constant improvements. These progressive steps that lead to innovative solutions gives good reputation to Toyota. The constant development of hybrid, fuel cell and fully electric for mass production, will at some point give benefits to consumers. Like the very compact “i-Q” EV, for city only use, claim a range of around 105 Km and a top speed of 125Km/h. The 3+1 is advertised as emission zero and with charging times very short. Three hours for a full charge and fifteen minutes to charge the 150 battery’s cells at 80%. By redesigning the powertrain from the petrol powered “i-Q” Toyota has given his competitors new standards. Although priced at 35.000$ still seems to be an expensive proposition to city petrol/diesel compact cars, but it is competitively priced in the electric vehicles market.
A case in point where the brand image and identity is positively increasing over time is thanks to the Prius constant development. Started in 1997 with the first version, three facelifts took over until today where a new model debut is planned for the year 2015. Toyota expanded the hybrid range to nineteen different cars. Also the packaging varies through the “Lift back”, “C” and “V”. Respectively the hatchback variant, compact city car, and versatile estate.
These are only the model variants of the Prius, but Toyota also sells Lexus hybrids and other vehicles like Camry hybrid, Avalon hybrid and Highlander hybrid. Statistics clearly point that Toyota’s brand image is very good in America. In U.S.A. TMC has sold almost two million units and global hybrid’s sales have passed five million units. Because in the country there are plenty of garages and dealers that service cars and take care of customers, Toyota’s American clients they felt more secure and satisfied by buying one of their cars. Also Hybrids vehicles, in image terms, give owners a sort of a statement: “I’m green” which is seem to be “cool” in American society. This is because the company’s environmental awareness has gone through. Again, facts like 500 million gallons per year saved by these vehicles gives a clear picture of company’s aims.
Finally TMC has built such a strong image within the production Hybrid’s market, that today is still the number one contender to compare all the other manufacturers against.
Erik Johnson (2007) “We don’t get it (Toyota i-Real Concept)” Car and Driver ([Online] available from:
Richard Bremner (2013) “Toyota i-Road first drive review” Autocar [Online] available from:
[15th October 2013]
David Jolley (2011) “Toyota iQ-Based EV headed for Geneva” Autoweek [Online] available from:
[15th February 2011]
Green Car Congress “Toyota cumulative hybrid sales pass 5m, nearly 2m in U.S.” Green car congress [Online] available from:
[17th April 2013]
Picture #1 [Online] Car Styling Russia, available from:
Picture #2 [Online] Diseno-art, available from:
Picture #3 [Online] AutoGaleria, available from:
Picture #4 [Online] Giornale Motori, available from: