2 posts categorized "Prius"

11/06/2009 Toyota and Apple: Two P's in an iPod?

Toyota and Apple have something in common. Both the Prius and the iPhone (and the iPod before it) appeal to people who like high tech, who want to feel as if they're a little ahead of the curve and who are ready to embrace products that change behavior.

The iPhone is clearly one of these products. It's changed how we use and what we expect from mobile phones (and mobile carriers). It's created a completely new Apps sector, one that other companies have rushed to copy. It is a brilliant product.

The Prius is also one of those products. It's slowly changing our expectations of cars. The car itself is one of the first high tech automobiles available and it should usher in a completely new wave of electric cars. It's changing the way we drive now and in the future.

You'd think that the Prius and the iPhone is a match made in heaven. Actually, Toyota does believe this. They've created an iPhone app about the Prius. Recently they launched an innovative interactive campaign using AR and Times Square billboards to connect iPhone users with the Prius. Toyota realizes that people who own iPhones should feel the same attraction to the Prius. And they're probably right.

What's wrong, though, is that unless you buy an upper-end Prius (Prius IV or V) there's no built in support to listen to and integrate iTunes in the car's system. There is an AUX connector in the car, but you have to buy a 3.5 mm audio cable, and even then, you can't control your iTunes through the stereo.

You can purchase an iPod integration kit for $250, but that's more than some iPhones cost. Or you can opt for the stereo/GPS upgrade for $1,400 but again, it's a lot to pay for listening to your own music. This Prius/iPod integration should be a standard feature, not an add-on.

Toyota, you have an outstanding product in the Prius. It's a product Apple and iPhone users should go crazy for. But if you're going to target and seduce this audience, you better make sure you deliver the goods. Otherwise they'll steam up the car windows but in the wrong way.
11/05/2009 When Products Change Behavior

Last week I purchased a new Toyota Prius. I had been eyeing this car for a while and when I realized that no pure electric car would be available for a while, I took the plunge. I used to drive an old Ford; the car I bought when I moved back to the U.S. and realized the American public transportation was an oxymoron. It always got great gas mileage, still chugging along at 30 MPG even after 10+ years, and I don't drive that much so it was a perfect little car for Burlington, Vermont.

But all things must pass, and I wanted to make a move before the old car had any major issues.

And let me tell you, I LOVE my new Prius. Love it. I'd driven a rental Prius last year in Florida and that got my attention. This one is even better.

Here's the weird/exciting/new part about it: Speed is no longer my key driving metric. I've driven a long time, and since I started driver's ed when I was 15 years old, the number I've always watched intently and allowed to direct my driving was always my MPH.

No longer. My Prius has a number of electronic indicators showing me my Miles Per Gallon, how well I'm charging my battery, whether I'm using Power or Charging, and more. I find that I'm driving less frantically and more carefully in order to get my numbers up!

While I drove somewhat economically before, this car is training and rewarding me for driving green, or ECO, as the Prius calls it.

And it's not just me. My seven-year old son who used to shout at me from the back seat to pass everyone now shouts every time we charge up and don't use the gasoline engine.  It's like he's changed our old car video game of PassEm to our new car video game of ChargeEm.

Yes, I'm driving more economically but I'm also driving more carefully. Measuring your driving simply on speed, whether you like it or not, encourages drivers to take more risks. Driving to efficiency encourages drivers to take fewer risks. This has to be a good thing for everything that has to do with driving.

It also shows that you can teach old dogs new tricks. When products supply people with a new way of gauging how they're doing, or provide features people never even knew they needed, they can profoundly change the way we act and live.

You know, the last time I experienced a product changing my behavior to this degree was with my iPhone. But more on that tomorrow...

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