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Volt Wins Among Today’s Hybrids and EVs

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Two new, completely different high efficiency cars entered the American car market earlier this year – the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt – and AutoPacific set out to find out how different the owners of those cars were from owners of hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.  We also are looking at how satisfied buyers are with the cars and what they would like changed.

Think of these four cars as being purpose-built for their technology.  They did not simply adapt their new powertrain technology to an existing vehicle such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid or the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  The Chevrolet Volt is an Extended Range Electric Vehicle.  The Nissan Leaf is a pure Battery Electric Vehicle.  And the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight are pure Hybrids.

Based on AutoPacific’s annual New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey which has a total of almost 73,000 new car and light truck owner responses to a comprehensive questionnaire about the car buying and ownership experience, the comparison finds some interesting and insightful results.

Leaf and Volt Owners are Dramatically Different from Prius and Insight Owners: Volt owners paid $43,000 for their new car.  Leaf owners paid $34,500.  Prius and Insight owners paid $25,000 and $21,000 respectively.  Given the price points, Volt and Leaf owners are the most affluent with incomes of $150,000.  Prius owners have an income of $100,000 and Insight owners have an income of $80,000.

Leaf and Volt owners are much more likely to be male and much more into the technology of their new car.  They are very similar to early buyers of hybrids who were enamored with the new innovative technology of their vehicle.  The Leaf and Insight owners are the youngest of the group at 53 and 54 years of age respectively.  Owners of the much more expensive Volt are 58 as are owners of the Prius.

Leaf owners have the highest level of education.  About 90% have a college education.  About 70% of Volt, Insight and Prius owners have a college education.  Leaf owners are much more likely to be retired (almost 50%).  Only 17% of Insight owners are retired.  About a third of Leaf owners are in a technical profession as are 20% of Volt owners.

Leaf owners are most likely (24%) to have owned a hybrid before.  Prius owners are almost as likely to have owned a hybrid (23%) as Leaf owners.  Volt (8%) and Insight (8%) owners are newcomers to the world of alternative fuel vehicles.  Volt owners are most likely to have previously driven a compact car (18%) or mid-size car (14%), Insight owners were most likely to have previously driven a compact car (23%) or a mid-size car (23%).

Satisfaction – Volt Wins: About 86% of Volt owners are very satisfied with their vehicles compared with 80% of Leaf owners, 70% of Prius owners and 54% of Insight owners.  Among these four cars, Volt owners are most satisfied by a substantial margin.  Leaf and Prius owners are about equally satisfied.  Insight owners are the least satisfied among the four cars.  Out of 48 satisfaction categories in the research,  Volt owners are the most satisfied in 38 of the categories… an overwhelming win.


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2013 Toyota RAV4 EV Prototype: A Quick Spin

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I’m at Toyota’s third Sustainable Mobility Seminar at the moment, a deep dive into the issues surrounding sustainable motoring featuring excellent speakers from industry and academia.  I’ll admit, my head is still spinning from all the education I’ve received over the last twenty-four hours, but there’s one part of the event I feel compelled to write about – right now.  All of us in attendance got the media’s very first chance to drive fully working prototypes of Toyota’s upcoming fully electric RAV4 EV.  As AutoPacific’s resident treehugger, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of Toyota’s upcoming electric SUV.


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Changing the face of Attractiveness – Toyota Tacoma Case Study

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Automotive product planners (VLMs) work with engineering, design, finance and marketing departments in an effort to make a vehicle attractive. Whether that attraction comes in the form of capability, styling, lease rates or message they are ultimately charged with helping sell the product.
Sometimes the decisions to change a vehicle makes perfect sense and help improve the desirability or attractiveness of a vehicle – especially a vehicle that has to sell well over the course of a long production run (like 8 years or more!). We’ve noticed one of the ways Toyota freshens up their Tacoma ‘s is with a new front grille. In fact, in the last 4 years Toyota has installed 3 different factory front grilles into the Tacoma – from the black 2-bar to argent 2-bar to a black single bar (2011).
2011-
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This change does alter the front fascia of the pickup but does it improve attractiveness or is it seen as a cheap attempt to ‘freshen’ a vehicle with minimal effort?
Has Toyota always changed the front grille for the better? We’ve heard a few complaints about the ‘agrent’ (silver color) grille (2009 & 2010) and it appears that the 2011 Tacoma grille has some current gen 4Runner DNA.
It looks like Toyota has changed the front grille at least 8 times over the last 16 years…
Has it always been an improvement? What do you think?

Posted in: Road Noise, Toyota

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2012 Lexus CT200h – Range Expansion Attracts GenX and GenY to Lexus

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Lexus CT200h 2011 FV.jpg
Think Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo C30 and you can better understand the competitive set Lexus is targeting with its all new CT200h 5-door hatchback to be launched in February 2011. Also think of the CT200h as a product really designed for the European market where it is right-sized and right-styled.
The competitive set in the USA sells less than 1,500 units per month now – or about 18,000 per year – small potatoes in a 12,000,000 unit industry. Lexus is going after 1,000 units per month – immediately intending capturing 40% of this small segment. Can they do it?
Given pricing in the low $30,0oo range, the CT will undercut the IS 250, but Lexus management tells us it won’t squeak in under the $30K barrier which could prove to be a psychological threshhold.


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Autopacific Announces 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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AutoPacVSAlogo10.jpgNational Survey Reveals Cadillac as Top Premium Brand, Buick as Top Popular Brand, Ford Motor Company Has Most Awards with Seven, Suzuki Kizashi as Top Car and Lincoln MKT as Top Truck
TUSTIN, Calif. (May 20, 2010) — AutoPacific today announced its 14th Annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA) to help consumers make informed vehicle purchase decisions.
“While the auto industry is showing signs of improvement, more than ever before, manufacturers need to be able to differentiate themselves. Proof of satisfied customers is as good as gold,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “We’ve found that more than 25% of new car buyers are positively influenced by owner-based awards like the VSA when deciding on a new car or truck.”
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award is an industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new car or light truck. This study by the Southern California-based automotive research firm summarizes the results of over 42,000 new vehicle owners.
“Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” says Peterson. “The winners perform well in 48 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience.”


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Toyota Recall Customer FAQs

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logo.jpgThe Toyota recalls over sticking accelerator pedals are causing quite a stir this week, one which has grown in volume, really, over months and years. The fallout may be severe for Toyota, depending on how long it takes to fully resolve the issues and whether or not an additional recall regarding the Prius brake system is also required–voluntary or not. The situation is particularly bad for a company that had built a personality based on reliability and safety. No doubt, they will be taken to task. No doubt, mistakes were made. Also no doubt, the media frenzy is turning an already difficult and serious recall situation into recall fever.
But, while the drama plays out on local and national news, and our hard-working Congresspeople ensure they publicly flog Toyota and get their two cents in and “keep us safe,” there are real people with real questions. Toyota has some answers for customers, and we’d like to share them with you.
Follow the jump for Toyota’s relatively thorough and clear FAQs, including information on both the accelerator pedal and floor mat recalls, and what to do in an emergency.


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PickupTrucks.com and AutoPacific Announce the Most Significant Trucks of the Decade

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PickupTucks.com and AutoPacific have taken a look at all the new trucks sold in the past 10 years and made their picks for the most significant trucks of the decade. The trucks that made the list introduced cutting edge technologies and pushed the segment into new territory.
“Despite the economic challenges of the past two years, it’s hard not to look back at the last ten years without calling it the decade of the pickup truck,” said PickupTrucks.com editor Mike Levine. “Sales of full-size pickups hit 2.56 million units in 2004 and Ford’s F-Series trucks remain the nation’s best-selling vehicles, 33 years in a row.”
Though there are many trucks that had a significant impact in the last decade, it’s clear that the 2009 Ford F-150 earned the title of “Most Significant”.
“On balance, we thought the 2009 Ford F-150 was the most significant pickup of the last decade,” said Jim Hossack, vice president of consulting for AutoPacific. “It sells in high volume, owners like it and its body, chassis and powertrain are all first rate. Features abound, and there are more models, series and options than can be counted. It’s a good looking truck and suitable for the widest possible range of tasks and uses.”
After the jump are those trucks deemed most significant, in no particular order.


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2009 Toyota Tundra – Double Cab 5.7L 4X4 Limited – All Guts, No Glory

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Humble Beginnings
The first-generation Tundra (like the T100) had been caught between mid-size and full-size pickup trucks. It was economical, reliable, and easier to park, but didn’t sell as well as the Detroit threes offerings. The 1999-2006MY Tundra (not coincidentally) built as a 7/8ths truck, was always perceived to be more of a grocery getter than an outright, knock down, drag-out, work-ready truck. This perception was reflected in Tundra sales volumes.
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2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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2008_09_09_fj_cruiser_51.jpg“Toyota’s FJ Cruiser wins the 2009 Motorist Choice award for the Mid-Size Sport Utility segment. What a ride! Looks tough. Is tough. Goes anywhere. Just what an authentic SUV is supposed to be, and a poster child for legendary Toyota virtues of quality, reliability and durability to boot.” – AutoPacific
“The FJ Cruiser was a 2009 BOVY Winner. The FJ Cruiser has best-in-segment ownership costs and by far the best retained value.” – IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
• Brand reputation
• Reliable/Dependable
• Durable/Long Lasting
• Overall Quality
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
• 2009 BOVY Winner
• Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
• Best Retained Value


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2009 Toyota Prius: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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Toy_08_Prius_2 copy.jpg“When thinking Toyota Prius, one often thinks green. We must also think winner, as Image Compact Car owners bestow the Motorist Choice Award as well as AutoPacific’s Owner Recommendation and Vehicle Satisfaction Awards on the iconic hybrid. With a standout shape and efficient interior packaging, the Prius fits nicely into the lives of those looking to make a statement without sacrificing lifestyle.” — AutoPacific
“The Prius was a 2009 BOVY winner and has the second-best retained value and the lowest fuel costs of any vehicle.” — IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
* Vehicle and Brand Reputation
* Reliable / Dependable
* Environmental Friendliness
* Innovative Technology
* Overall Quality
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
* 2009 BOVY Winner
* Exceptional Retained Value
* Lowest Fuel Costs of any vehicle


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