Toyota product planners want to find out whether the WiLL Vi sedan - a hit among Japanese youth - would have similar appeal in the United States. The automaker has a Web site - www.whatswill.com - to gauge consumer reaction to the little car. It also has put several of the vehicles in circulation in Los Angeles.
But Toyota's name does not appear on the Web site. This is in keeping with its WiLL strategy in Japan, where it did not emphasize the car's corporate parent to distance the WiLL from Toyota's stodgy image there. In the United States, Toyota has removed all badges from cars in the Los Angeles fleet - and does not say on the Web site that it builds the car.
About the only hint that there might be a major automaker involved comes on the site page that polls Net surfers about whether the WiLL should be sold in the United States. 'We are trying to see if there are enough funky, hip, individualistic people out there that would consider buying a vehicle like the WiLL,' it says. 'If there are, and we want to believe that this is true, we might be able to convince the big guys to build it.'