Toyota YouTube Marketing: Redundancy In Advertisement

In the previous article of this mini-series where we take a look at Youtube marketing by car manufacturers, Hyundai was the center of attention, as their 15 second adverts gave no reason to consumers as to why they should buy a vehicle from the Korean automaker. Toyota now finds themselves in the BostonAutoBlog spotlight, magnifying Hyundai’s bland marketing campaign, by going one step further in advertising technology or features that all or most car manufacturers offer in today’s market. Toyota has always had a loyal following, but if their goal is to increase sales, they’re missing big in their recent onslaught of 15 second videos.

Before we analyze the video above; is this the state the automotive market is in right now, marketing pre-existing features that any car company offers? In this 15 second clip, LED headlights are the main focus, with the spokesman saying, “How do you make Camry’s headlights stand out even more? Skip ahead a few hours”. It sounds like a punchline to a corny joke, one which won’t break the ice if you’re at a table surrounded by strangers.

Most cars come with LED headlights or you can order them to modify the current car you own. Toyota’s LED’s can’t even hold a candle to three year old used Audis or BMWs which would be in the same price range as a new Camry. Worst of all, as a consumer, why would I be attracted to a Camry after watching this quick ad? Yes, by now we should all know Toyota’s reliability record, but there’s no need to start marketing features that buyers wouldn’t find relevant.

The corny jokes don’t end there, it continues with yet another quick ad. At this point, you have to wonder if the same marketing firm that worked with Hyundai, moved onto Toyota a few months later. Toyota’s are not known for their handling, and as someone who has driven a Rav4 in the past, you don’t feel very connected to the road. If great handling is the focus of the commercial, there needs to be actual footage, and not a guy playing with a toy car who then places it in the driveway.

While 15 second clips on Youtube are the norm for automakers now, less information about the vehicle being marketed is presented. Even though there’s a risk of viewers pressing the skip ad button, it would be better to extend these ads to 30 seconds to offer potential buyers selling points as to why they should buy a Rav4 or a Toyota Camry.

The last video worth highlighting, might just be the worst of them all. People who buy a Toyota Prius purchase them for one reason, it’s environmentally friendly. Toyota has been marketing the Prius like a race car, or during the Super Bowl, a getaway car. It’s time to go back to their roots and advertise the Prius for what it is. It’s not “agile”, it’s not “fun”, and it certainly doesn’t need racing decals as the car doesn’t deserve racing credentials.

What’s lacking in this commercial? Fuel efficiency. Isn’t that why people buy a Prius? What YouTube marketing has done is take common sense and a well thought out commercial out of the equation. There’s no selling points, no facts about what the car can do, no demonstration as to why it’s “agile”, and there are no legitimate reasons as to why I, or anyone else should buy one.

Hyundai and Toyota have made the ads that popup before watching a video cringe-worthy. These two manufacturers can offer better in terms of marketing to the masses, as their cars speak for themselves. Both their reliability ratings and customer satisfaction should be the main focal points of these ads, not the technology or features within the cars.

If Ford, Chrysler-Fiat, GM, Mazda, Kia, and Honda are watching, they should take notes. Hyundai and Toyota have left the door open for better YouTube advertising that grabs consumers’ attention, thoroughly goes over what their cars offer in terms of reliability, safety, and performance, and not worry about the technology within the vehicles. What is truly lacking in the automotive market is passion, emotion, and excitement.

We should get excited when we see your commercials. There should be a desire to want to drive and buy your vehicles. Every time your vehicle passes us by on the street, our first thought should be that great commercial you marketed that created an emotional connection. It’s time to start marketing your cars as if you love them as much as the consumer. Without passion, you become a Toyota who is trying to crack corny jokes, or Hyundai who is in an identity crisis as they’re not sure whether to brand themselves as a company that offers luxury vehicles, or a company that has reasonably priced cars for the middle class.

The Poor Man’s Exotic: Lotus Evora

Lotus Evoras
DryHeatPanzer via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Exotics are often very rare, high performance sports cars that grab the attention of fellow drivers and pedestrians. These cars often grab a lot of attention, with many people either taking photos or approaching the owners if they’re nearby, asking them how much the car cost and complementing them on their choice of a supercar. But there are often many sports cars that are below $100,000 that usually fly under the radar, some of which have a presence of being a six figure exotic, and to the average person on the street, the Lotus Evora is one of those cars.

A car manufacturer that in my opinion is extremely underrated, Lotus is often forgotten and left in the shadows behind Jaguar and Aston Martin. The small car brand is a diamond in the rough, and because of that, the Evora comes in at a great price, offering performance and an appearance of being exotic. Currently, Lotus hasn’t brought any new models to the United States, but plan to return near 2020. In the meantime, there are 2010-2014 models on the market that have either never been driven, or well taken car of by previous owners.

Starting with price, you can find a 2013 Evora for $54,500 and almost brand new 2014 models for just under $80,000. With those prices, that’s right in line with the Alfa Romeo 4C, Porsche Boxster and Cayman. In terms of rarity, the Evora is more like the 4C, and because of its scarcity, you’re going to turn heads when driving through the center of town. However, your car’s fans will not be seeing much of you at the gas station. Unlike exotics, the Evora receives a combined 30 mpg. To put that into perspective, you’re getting better gas mileage than a Volvo. So your car may be less safe, but it’s more fun to drive and less stress on your wallet.

Performance-wise, the Evora comes standard with 276 horsepower, powered by a Toyota 3.5 liter V-6. Most of the remaining Evoras on the market come with 345 horsepower, and are usually the S 2+2 trim. 0-60 times are around 4.4 seconds, which is similar to the Alfa Romeo 4C’s 4.1. The main reason why the Lotus is slower than others in its class is because it’s heavier, but that certainly doesn’t limit the Evora’s overall performance.

The Evora is one of the more under-appreciated cars on the market. However, on the road that’s a completely different story. While you’ll have to look around for a dealership that has one, and may have to travel 200+ miles, it’s well worth the trip. These cars will not break the bank, and ask any owner, the Evora was definitely worth the price.

Is Having The BRZ In Subaru’s Lineup A Waste Of Time?

When you think of Subaru you probably picture a Forester or Outback navigating through the woods on a dirt road, or a WRX STI racing on a rally circuit. AWD is it’s specialty, the ability that allows drivers to get from point A to point B throughout the winter, and give the owner a peace of mind when they get behind the wheel in treacherous driving situations. Subaru has never been known to appeal to the RWD, sports car community, and instead reaches the consumer who wants off-road capability or a vehicle that is immune to most, if not all weather conditions. The Subaru BRZ does not fit that mold and never will.

Last year Subaru managed to sell 7,500 BRZ’s, and during the best monthly sales, none of the figures reached 1,000 cars sold. Because Scion, Toyota, and Subaru collaborated on the BRZ/FR-S, Subaru isn’t taking a major risk, or one in which they’re not going to deal with the consequences of poor sales solely. Two other manufactures are also on the ship that appears to be sinking. The real question is whether Subaru is wasting their time with having the BRZ in their lineup.

Starting at $25,500, the BRZ is just a mere $1,000 cheaper than the base version of the WRX. They’re two completely different cars, but one offers more horsepower, AWD, four doors, and tradition, while the other is basically a rebadged Toyota. In the eyes of consumers the WRX’s 268 hp, coupled with a manual transmission, is more appealing than a 200 hp coupe. While they both are in different classes, the WRX will steal sales away from the BRZ because it offers more.

For Scion, the FR-S makes sense because they don’t have another sports car in their lineup that will compete in sales. The tC is cheaper with less horsepower, while the FR-S is more of a traditional performance coupe that attracts younger consumers who want a car with power. For the Toyota owned company, the FR-S isn’t as big of a waste of time, and in fact is seeing double the sales as the BRZ, and that’s because of the consumers that Scion attracts.

At the end of the day, there is no difference between the BRZ and FR-S except the badge on the front. The biggest variable however is the loyal consumers for both auto brands. Subaru is seeing limited sales, and from a numbers standpoint, they’re wasting their time by selling a coupe. Due to having a sports sedan within the same price range, the BRZ isn’t a great fit for the company. Scion on the other hand desperately needs the FR-S to succeed, and because of their minimal lineup range, the sports coupe can and will see better sales figures than it will for Subaru.

The BRZ was an experiment, one in which Subaru could see if they could make some noise in the sports coupe market. Because they have a tradition set on AWD and off-road capability, consumers aren’t flocking to Subaru dealerships to buy a RWD coupe that doesn’t fit in the AWD dominated lineup. Sales figures could rise, but it’s very unlikely. The remaining question is, how long will they keep the BRZ in their lineup before they cut their losses and move on?

What is Scion’s Identity? Do They Even Have One?

This week at the New York International Auto Show, Scion unveiled their all new iA sedan and iM hatchback that will be going on sale at the end of 2015. Scion, which is owned by Toyota, really has only one car that they can truly call they own, the tC, while the rest of their lineup is either rebadged Toyota’s that are sold in Europe and Asia, or they have cars that aren’t even built by their parent company. The FR-S was a collaboration by Toyota and Subaru, and can be bought as a Subaru, the BRZ.

What is Scion? Were they originally Toyota’s cheap brand that sold to younger consumers, or are they now a combination of cheaper vehicles and a lab rat for other car companies to see what they could come with without putting their badge on the car? The iA is essentially the new Mazda 2 sedan, and was also a collaboration with Toyota by Mazda. The iM is a rebadged Toyota Auris and will be what takes the place of the Toyota Matrix, and will give Scion the opportunity to try increasing sales in the hatchback market. Both cars will be starting anywhere between $16,000 – $20,000 when they hit the market, and with a very lackluster group of vehicles that are currently within that price range, the iA and iM could see some strong sales.

The biggest issue facing Scion is that their sales figures aren’t as strong as they were back in 2005. Scion was the new kid on the block offering cheaper cars for younger drivers, but today, the tC and FR-S are the only Scions that younger consumers want to get behind the wheel of, and when it comes to the FR-S, they can choose to visit a Subaru dealer instead.

Out of the two, the iM has a better chance of succeeding than the iA. While great fuel economy and cheaper starting price for the iA might go a long way in helping consumers decide whether to buy the car or not, the iM being a hatchback, might be more appealing to younger consumers.

Toyota has a lineup consisting of cars that compete with Honda, Ford, and Chevrolet, while their luxury division, Lexus, is taking on BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, and Infiniti. It would be great if Scion became both cheap for younger consumers, while being the performance division for Toyota. The tC and FR-S are good starts, but if Toyota could offer a Celica (which in essence is the tC) MR-2 or some original sports car badged as a Scion, the perception of the brand would change completely overnight. Right now it seems like Scion is everyone’s ginny pig, and that’s what is confusing consumers. The Toyota owned company is now 13 years old, it’s time to start maturing and offering original cars that aren’t rebadged by other Japanese brands or Toyota itself.

Are Consumers’ Demand For Luxury Interiors Driving Prices Up?

In an age of living a luxurious life, even for those living well beyond their means, we’re seeing prices gradually moving up, pinching middle class consumers in the process. The automotive market is one of those industries in which we’re witnessing the inflation of car prices. Vehicles that shouldn’t be priced any higher than $16,000 – $18,000 are nearing $20,000+, and consumers are beginning see how buying a 1-2 year old used car is a better fiscal decision than walking into the dealer and driving off the lot in a brand new car. But are consumers partially to blame for the uptick in vehicle prices?

Europeans are known to prefer luxury and driving experience over flat-out performance, which is why European auto makers produce more expensive cars that capture the very best in what the automotive world has to offer. Over the years we’re seeing this trend beginning to grow in the United States as flat-out performance is not selling as quick as luxury, something Cadillac refuses to see as they’re marketing performance first and their sales figures are dropping because of that. Muscle cars have made a slight rebound with the emergence of the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats, the new fastback Ford Mustang, and the Chevrolet Camaro which will be sporting a new look next year.

If you’ve been to car shows recently you’ve noticed that interiors of low-end cars now have an upscale appeal. The Mazda3 and Mazda6 have very comfortable and luxurious interiors, which is a slight shock considering that they’re not a luxury brand. The Honda Civic EX-L, priced around $25,000, has an amazing interior, and if you forget about the engine that it has, you’d have to say that it’s a very impressive car. This leads me to the Toyota Yaris, which some trims cost near or exceed $19,000. That’s absolutely outrageous as this is the Hyundai Elantra GT’s price range territory. True, it gets less gas mileage than the Yaris, but why buy a micro hatchback when you can buy a full size for the same price?

The interiors and their infotainment systems are partially to blame, but so are the consumers. Bluetooth, navigation systems, electric sunroofs, touch displays, and premium cloth or leather seats all factor into the price. The reason why cars like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are considered economical cars is because they’re supposed to be cheap while also offering great gas mileage. Not in 2015. While you have the option to buy the base model, $16,000 is still no drop in the bucket either. Which raises the question as to why consumers would buy new in this current market? Leasing offers have become more appealing than buying, and you actually end up with a better car for 24-36 months than if you bought a car for $18,000.

The luxurious lifestyle is great, but are we living way beyond our means? The Mazda3 was once affordable, a rival to the Ford Focus. Now a top trim Mazda3 is impeding on the Chrysler 200’s territory. For those who do have the money to buy a $25,000+ car, this is a great time to buy. Instead of spending $40,000 on a Mercedes Benz or BMW, you can get an upscale interior for a fraction of the cost. In the sure sense of practicality, a top trim Mazda3, Subaru Impreza Premium, or a Honda Civic EX-L is a much better option, and you don’t break the bank buying a car that offers every infotainment system on the market.

Car companies have their reasons for spiking the prices of cars, but consumers’ demands for luxury interiors and infotainment systems have been a cause for more expensive cars that were once affordable. Whatever happened to the days when we’d get in our cars, turn on the radio, roll the windows down, and enjoy the driving experience? Owning a luxury car is by no means a bad thing, but we’re continuously outdoing ourselves by demanding luxury in cars that are nowhere close to being upscale.

Debunking the “Leasing is a Bad Option” Opinion

Go on any online forum, Facebook page or group, Twitter, or Reddit and you’ll find an overwhelming majority of commenters and members of groups discouraging many people from leasing when they ask the question. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some people prefer buying outright, some would rather buy certified pre-owned or used, and a growing percentage of consumers are looking at leasing rather than buying. Every consumer has their motivation as to how, what, and why they buy the cars they do, but why is leasing always ripped when someone asks the question?

One of drawbacks of leasing is the annual mileage limit that typically ranges between 10,000 – 12,000 miles, depending on the car brand. You’re also looking at a higher down payment on a lease. But there are other factors (I’ll get to that in a moment) where the $2,000 – $3,000 down payment doesn’t look so bad in the long run. You will also not have the option to trade in the car after your lease is up, but you can buy the car or look at leasing again. Lastly, any extra miles that go above the annual limit, or scratches and dents, will cost you at the end of the lease, so you must be more careful than if you bought new or used.

Now that we’ve got the negatives out of the way, let’s take a look at why leasing is actually better.

As a used car buyer, I’ve experienced dealing with maintenance due to owning an aging car. I have monthly car payments, and I had to put a $2,000 down payment on the car. Right there we’re looking at close to $4,000+ (not including the monthly payments) with the down payment and maintenance. I’m paying $200+ a month on car payments, and to put that into perspective, the payments are more than if I leased a new Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback, Toyota RAV4, or a Honda CR-V.

The payments are a concern for people inquiring about the costs of leasing, and the advice givers always go back to the payments as a strongpoint to oppose the idea of leasing. However, if you’re in the position where you can’t buy a used car outright and put a down payment on it, you’re still dealing with monthly payments. Unlike with leasing, you could be locked in for 48 – 60 months depending on how much you want to pay per month, as opposed to being committed for 24 – 36 months with a lease. So right there you’re putting in an extra year or two on an older car that could be subject to mechanical failure due to high mileage or age.

Some dealerships are now offering free maintenance with a lease. That’s huge, especially if you’re thinking longterm. There are dealerships out there that also offer competitive prices when it comes to oil changes and wheel alignment. Also with a lease, you’re less likely to have to deal with major maintenance bills with the car being so new. There are no previous owners, so the entire time you have the car you know it’s history from your first drive to the last time you’ll ever see the car.

The last positive is that dealership’s leasing offers are always changing, especially during holidays. Herb Chambers BMW of Sudbury had an offer for the BMW 328ix that you couldn’t refuse. It was $275 a month with a $3,000+ down payment (usually you’d be paying close to $300+ a month). I know the down payment would scare anyone away, but if you have the money, you can’t tell me you’d rather buy a $3,000 early 2000’s Honda Civic with 180,000 miles that’s been owned by 3 different people, than a new 3 series. Now again, it’s all about where you are financially, but whether you’re a parent or college graduate, you would prefer something new or newer than having to deal with the headaches and hassles of owning an older car.

It doesn’t have to be a BMW, but a new Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and RAV4, or Subaru would be a better option than buying used and dealing with the unknowns.

Yes, leasing has it’s downsides, but so does buying used. It really depends on what you’re specifically looking for. As someone who owns a nine year old car, driving a new car with a lower monthly payment sounds great. Also, the peace of mind of owning a new car with no mechanical issues or aging equipment would make me sleep more soundly at night.

Will The Ford Focus RS Bring Performance Packages To Cheaper Vehicles?

The Ford Focus RS is no doubt a game changer in the auto industry. For the first time, Ford is bringing their performance packaged Focus RS to the United States, which has also raised the question of whether we’ll see an RS version of the Fiesta. By doing this however, Ford would be awakening some sleeping giants in the auto world who are waiting for their moment to break free and start offering performance vehicles to the average consumer. This could also have an impact on Subaru’s turf as the WRX STI hasn’t had many challengers, if any since the Mitsubishi Lancer’s steep decent into irrelevancy. This may also eventually reach Volkswagen’s stake in the hatchback market if other car companies start following suit.

Toyota is already mulling over the idea of unleashing the TRD performance packages for the Camry, and one could then speculate on whether the Toyota Corolla will get the same treatment. For the past few years Ford has been going at it with Toyota and Honda to become the top dog in annual sales, and with the RS line, it’s very possible that consumers may start looking to performance. Toyota already realizes this, and are at least looking into getting in on the action.

Prior to the Focus RS’s unveiling, the Subaru WRX STI and the Volkswagen GTI were sitting comfortably in their respective markets. The GTI has always been the favorite for hatchbacks and are extremely popular, even with the Focus ST being priced in the same neighborhood. Now with an AWD Focus, Ford has some leverage to entice consumers to look at other options besides the GTI. The Subaru WRX STI on the other hand will be harder to dethrone, as car manufactures who’ve tried to compete with Subaru ultimately failed, and it will take some time for Ford to convince consumers in that market to make the switch.

In the past year or so, we’ve seen almost every car manufacturer get in on a new, emerging market. BMW and Mercedes Benz are now duking it out with the X6 and GLE in a market that could be gaining some traction. Right now it seems that performance packaged hatchbacks and compact sedans could become the latest trend in the automotive world. What we’re witnessing is an intensity in competition between automakers that really hasn’t been seen since the dawn of the muscle car. In the past, car companies would be unique and try selling based on a feature or design that no one else could offer. Now it appears that to stay alive, auto brands are continuously attempting to improve an existing design.

Up until recently, no one tried to advance on the WRX STI and the GTI’s turf, but with Ford making the bold move to bring a version of the Focus that was being sold outside the United States to America, we may see other car brands do the same. Honda will not be bringing over the Civic Type R until at least 2017, but you can believe that if Toyota starts selling TRD packaged Camry’s and Corolla’s, Honda will start feeling the pressure to sell a quality performance car.

Consumers are going to have variety in almost every market. Now it comes down to personal preference. The diehard GTI and WRX STI fans will be reluctant to switch to a different brand, but for Millennials who are starting to buy cars, they may look to new brands, and etch their own buying habits in stone.

Whether You Prefer Automatic or Manual, Don’t Get A CVT

2015_Subaru_WRX_STI.008
Automotive Rhythms / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

For the die-hard gear-head, manual transmissions will always be what they swear by as it’s the only true way to experience every aspect of a sports car. But in the 21st century we’re given an array of different transmission types that allow the driver to either cruise in automatic, or have some fun by shifting into a non pure form of manual. However, whether you prefer an automatic or manual, the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) will most likely ruin your driving experience.

CVT’s can be found on most Japanese cars including the Subaru WRX, which as a car enthusiast, makes me cringe at the thought that the four-door sports car doesn’t get a more driver-friendly transmission. Some may wonder what’s the difference between a CVT and a regular transmission. When you floor the gas pedal you don’t get the full experience of hearing the transmission changing gears. Every kid can relate to the sound of the engine going through the gears, and if you own a CVT, you’ll never get to hear the switch to the new gear.

If you’re more concerned about fuel economy, a CVT would be the better choice as it’s designed to help save gas when you’re accelerating. The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Subaru Legacy to name a few, are some of the models that have a CVT in them, but out of those three, the Legacy doesn’t get anywhere near the MPG’s of the Corolla and Civic. The 3.6R limited trim of the Legacy gets 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, but that does get overshadowed by the fact that there is a CVT transmission in the car. What’s the point in having the sportier version of a sedan when you can’t fully enjoy the revs and changes of gears?

Sports cars, and versions with a sports package should be enjoyed to the greatest extent. To put a CVT into a car that was built for the car enthusiast or the one who wanted to floor the gas pedal completely defeats the purpose of manufacturing the car at all. Other than a few ideal situations and how the car is used, a CVT would be useful in the city, but if you intend to take the car onto the open roads, don’t expect to feel the rush and excitement of accelerating on the highway and hearing the transmission go through the gears.