Experiential Campaigns Tout Hybrid Vehicles

Gasoline prices are down, but carmakers, looking to angle in on the hybrid-vehicle market are launching corporate "experiential" campaigns to promote their hybrid vehicles and environmental friendliness while educating consumers that hybrids don't have to be plugged in.

On the heels of the Nissan Green 2010 program announcement, Toyota and GM are each pitching their alternative fuels and engine programs--the former via a national tour, the latter through a new exhibit at Disney's Epcot center.

Toyota's road show "Highway to the Future: Mobile Hybrid Experience," launches tomorrow at the San Jose International Auto Show, the first of 150 events the show visits nationwide over the next year and a half.

The exhibition lets consumers try out Toyota's hybrid-powertrain sub-brand, called Hybrid Synergy Drive, and get interactive tutorials on hybrid technology, alternative fuels and environmental issues.

Consumers can also test-drive the hybrid-powered Toyota Prius, and hybrid versions of Camry and Highlander. The company recently launched a TV campaign touting the hybrid vehicles.



Toyota said it will plant more than 50,000 trees representing the people it predicts will visit the road show. These trees are also intended to represent--or ameliorate--the emissions of the tow trucks hauling the exhibit around the country.

General Motors said that its new exhibit, "Fuel for Thought," at Disney's Epcot theme park in Orlando, Fla., will tout GM's effort to be first to market with fuel cell vehicles and its current E85 "flex-fuel' program.

The exhibit, GM's second major exhibit at Epcot after the "Test Track presented by General Motors," a rollercoaster-like thrill ride which launched in 1999, comprises various kiosks, games, floor projection and, plasma wall elements, as well as live narratives.

The exhibit includes a plasma-screen walk-through of cornfields, which is a nod to GM's "Live Green, Go Yellow" campaign launched last year to support its E85 program; and a model of the hydrogen fuel-cell "Autonomy" concept vehicle.

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