Belle of the Ball

With camera in hand as a prop, I got in before the crowd while Channel 7 News was filming in the background, and each car company prepped their vehicle for display.


The EV showcase included cars from Daimler (Fuel Cell), Honda (PHEV seen here), Pi Mobility (eBike), Tesla (pure EV seen here), Toyota (PHEV), VW (Fuel Cell), and an AC Propulsion eBox from PG&E's fleet. Photo of the Fuel Cell cars below.


Interesting talk today from Bob Bienenfeld, Snr Mgr, Environment and Energy Strategy, HONDA, who led Insight vehicle development, the first hybrid in the U.S.:


“How do consumers make choices?

SUVs tried to look rugged, but they weren’t.

These vehicles were our avatars – our representation of ourselves.


How about the Hybrid vehicle brand associations?

April 2006 study. Our Hypothesis: socio-political values differ more than traditional car brand values

Sure enough: Gas car drivers: middle of road, Hybrid owners: liberal

Prius: just more extreme on each of these views


What are you concerned about?

Civic hybrid: 44% said dependence on foreign oil

Prius: climate change


Why did you buy your hybrid?

Civic: 54% answered “access to carpool lane” (!), 39% gas efficiency

Prius: 3% access to carpool lane , 51% gas efficiency


Distinctive look for their car. It’s a Prius. It’s not even a Toyota. Define their identity.


We are not used to developing cars with such a rich array of attributes, such as “ giving a big middle finger to Exxon.”


Cachet – part of a club.


As political issues wax and wane, the interest for these cars do too.


We see an 86% correlation between the sales volume of hybrids and the price of gasoline.


Typical gas car emits a pound of CO2 per mile driven.


Honda Civic CNG is a 25% reduction in CO2. Great. But regulatory direction is an 80% reduction in tons, which requires a 90% reduction in intensity. So CNG is not enough.


We like to talk about technology, but nobody wants to talk about a customer because nobody understands the customer.


We only have 3% penetration of hybrids in the new vehicle market, and much less in the rolling stock.”

  • Steve Jurvetson 5y

    Fuel cell vehicles from VW and Daimler:

    Fuel Cell Vans
  • msamaclean © 5y

    Bought this a month ago, (Insight). Most definitely fuel economy and yes, liberal!...;-D
    The Real Deal......................DSC_1655
    If Tesla comes out with something in the 20-35 thousand $ range, we'll be in line first! Would love to be 100% EV !!!
  • conformation_change 5y

    I wonder if there will be a "black swan" event that makes EVs absolutely necessary or rendered obsolete. Either event could decouple political association from the kind of car we purchase in interesting ways.
  • David Gilford 5y

    Fascinating survey results on buyer motivations. The correlation between gas prices and hybrid purchases makes sense, though perhaps shows short-term thinking.

    It's shocking to me that 54% of Civic Hybrid buyers decided based on access to carpool lane, vs. only 3% of Prius owners. I wonder how large the sample size was and whether it was biased towards people with certain commute patterns?

    This discussion reminds me of much more explicit wording on this tiny EV in Copenhagen:
    "It's not a car - it's a statement!"
    Electric car for rent by complexify.
  • RRNeal 5y

    The socioeconomic factor differences between Prius and Civic/Insight were truly interesting.

    It seems the Honda Hybrids serve a mental model of utilitarianism and common sense whilst the Prius (is that Pri or Priuses in plural?) produce associations with achieving a green pathos. Based on past sales records (pre-2009), the draw of zen-like appeal to emotions may present as the stronger case.

    Honda (obviously) is well aware of this evidenced through their new marketing push for their Insight model (inclusive of green leaf-logo and "eco-assist" functionality).

    This is all good stuff, indeed!
  • Steve Jurvetson 5y

    I really liked the Honda guy. He humbly offered:
    "Insight ’99 was a 2-seater. The Accord Hybrid did not do well. Now we have a 5-seater insight. It’s done rather poorly in the marketplace. It's entirely our fault. The car needs to be better. Bottom line."

    Complexify: It was a relatively small sample, in focus group format, from the Orange County area, maybe LA too.

    From other studies, they found similar passion levels in diesel car drivers in Houston, and anecdotal evidence for even higher passion levels in biodiesel drivers (but there are too few to draw any statistical conclusions)...

    But I think their avatars are telling... =)
    swords to ploughshares Hummer Envy
  • Stephen Bové 5y

    Toyota needs to get that PHEV Prius to market YESTERDAY. The Lexus 250h has switchable all electric mode up to 20MPH while batteries hold out. Thats a nice start. PEHV with enough batteries for 30 mile range reduces most folk's gas consumption to near zero. Its the perfect bridge tech.

    ps: Agree with Honda guy: I owned one of the first 2 seater Insights. great car, not practical for most buyers. Their efforts since then have STALLED. With Toyota distracted by brake recalls and a 2nd generation Prius that was nothing but a re-skin-makeover, Honda can pounce with a PEHV 5 seater at <$40k that gets 30 to 40 all electric miles - and doesn't look like a Prius copy (ahem)

    pps: If I were on board at Tesla, I would be pushing HARD for a PEHV version of that sedan.
  • vennettaj 5y

    now i want this red one..doing some wild window shopping here
  • Toby 5y

    Actually, the 2nd generation Prius did bring in a traction battery redesign that addressed some basic but important quality issues. Sorry for no link.

    I recently purchased a 1996 Toyota Tercel. With some minor mods to the car and major mods to my driving style I am regularly achieving near 50 mpg, which is greater than the combined EPA rating for the Prius of 46. The "bridge tech" does not need to be wildly expensive PHEV's. Small, well designed gasoline cars could annihiliate current EPA ratings.
  • James Cann 5y

    I have started commuting to work in this:


    It's a Ford Th!nk. Cost per mile is estimated around $0.024. I am currently researching options for solar panels on the roof of the vehicle to continuously charge while parked. If you have any suggestions please let me know!
  • msamaclean © 5y

    I'm surprised at the comment from the 'Honda guy'. My research showed the new Insight to be the #1 hybrid now, in Japan and our dealer can't keep them in stock. We literally took ours off the car carrier! It doesn't have the top of the line amenities, true, but it seems, so far, to be a comfortable, quiet ride with excellent mpg, (and fun to drive).
    A vehicle just needs to have comfort, a good stereo/CD player, air conditioning & get from point A to point B without costing an arm & a leg! I'll take my luxury in other pleasures of life...;-) Today's trip to Palm Springs recorded 50.1 mpg!
  • Alex Stoll 5y

5 faves
Taken on April 7, 2010
  • EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM
  • ƒ/2.8
  • 16.0 mm
  • 1/30
  • 800
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
This photo is in 2 albums
This photo is in 1 gallery

Additional info

  • Viewing this photo Public
  • Safety level of this photo Safe
  • S Search
    Photo navigation
    < > Thumbnail navigation
    Z Zoom
    B Back to context