LOS ANGELES -- Toyota and Honda divisions will launch dueling hybrid marketing campaigns this fall. Each company plans to use its campaign to promote its hybrid technology more than individual vehicles.
The Toyota Prius accounted for more than 60 percent of all U.S. sales of hybrid vehicles last year, says Jim Farley, vice president of marketing of Toyota Division. Last month the company launched the hybrid version of the Highlander SUV.
Toyota's new marketing campaign will emphasize the hybrid powertrain, Farley says. Toyota calls its technology Hybrid Synergy Drive.
"The issue is no longer how to convince opinion leaders that hybrid is great technology," Farley says. "Our job is to focus on the mainstream consumers who still don't know hybrid's benefits."
Hybrid vehicles use a gasoline engine and one or more electric motors to power the wheels.
John Mendel, senior vice president of operations at American Honda Motor Co. Inc., says Honda will launch a new ad campaign for the Accord and Civic in September that will cite the technology in the hybrid versions of those cars.
The redesigned Civic that is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this fall will have a more efficient hybrid powertrain than the current version. "You'll see hybrids be a part of our marketing mix," Mendel says.
Honda projects U.S. sales of 45,000 hybrid vehicles this year, out of projected total sales of 1.5 million cars and light trucks.