Let's look at the names of the current hybrid gas-electric cars which are available for the American public to buy. The Prius, The Volt, The Leaf. No offense to owners of these vehicles, but they all sound pretty lame. If you don't think a name matters, check again. Yukon, Wrangler, Escalade, Mustang, Raptor, Firebird; these names sound much more inspiring and have been much better sellers in the past. Whether it makes any logical sense at all, vehicles are a status symbol in America.
I know the comparison between a Ford Mustang and Toyota Prius is not fair but I'm trying to make a point about visual appeal and product marketing. Why aren't manufacturers attempting to get sales of hybrids based on lust and status. Why does a hybrid vehicle look more like a broken Rubik's cube than a tank from the Thundercats? Why do they call it a Leaf instead of a Titan or Jackhammer? It sounds stupid, but we know it translates into sales. Aesthetic appeal combined with product positioning and bold connotations equals sales. Doesn't it? Can't we be cool and get good gas mileage too?
Come on folks, look at this thing. It looks like a new-age mini van:
I don't have an awe inspiring vehicle in my driveway, but I'm certainly not lusting after the Prius. Take a look at the Leaf, from Nissan.
Yes, equally hideous and unappealing! Who designed this thing, Bill Gates? It looks more like a PC than a car. Next we have the Volt. "The Volt" sounds like a toy I might of had when I was a kid:
Actually, I like the looks of the Volt a lot more than the others. Still, the name has to go. This is nobody's dream car. Maybe the Chevrolet "High Voltage" would have sounded more.....conducive to sales.
So the exciting, and not so surprising news is that hybrid and electric car sales aren't doing so well. Prius, the ugly new generation hippie bus, is actually selling the best; over 11,000 in january alone. The Volt had less than 600 units sold this past month and the Leaf, nipping at the heels of the Prius, sold 10,000 units in January.
Other reasons why these cars aren't selling include less than impressive gas mileage when compared to other economy gas powered vehicles, high sticker prices, and limited qualified repair people at the service shop. If you examine the whole package, it leaves very few sensible reasons to buy one.
Manufacturers will have to do better than,"it's good for the environment" to get consumers to demand their products. I think hybrid is a great idea but why isn't it more cost effective and physically attractive? Apple can make iPods look cool, why can't Toyota do the same thing with a car?