06 November, 2008

What We Need Is Kei-oot Kars

Just an observation.  I've been looking at the small economy and hybrid and electric car market staggering off the ground, albeit at a fraction of the speed it needs in order to thrash its larger gas guzzling siblings.  And then I see - this - and I realise something.  Japan's once again whupping our asses and handing them to us.  At the thing that will sell these cars faster than burger meals with a happy toy.  I'm talking cuteness.

Cars have to be solid colours? I remember my father bemoaning when cars strated coming out in "kitchen colours" as he called pastels and mixed colours.  It was a step to integrating cars into our lives - and it worked, in aces and spades and straights.

My friends were all disgusted when soccer mum cars started sporting racing stripes, and horrified when vehicles started sporting "designer mud splashes" painted right on them.  Those cars may have looked like 20th century Barbiemobiles but they sold in huge quantity.

Now look at the kei car in the picture.  It's a very cute shape, the lighting has been set up to give it a soft pink glow, and it has a logo on the door.  All it needs is a Hello Kitty face and flower on the doors, and  I don't care if it has a range of 80km, a top speed of 80kph, and runs on pickled bee farts - I'd fall for the cute toy factor, and a toy price to match.

So come on car manufacturers - you want to penetrate the market with environment-friendly small cars, take a leaf out of the book of the Masters Of Cute and start inking deals with Sanrio and Mattel, The Wiggles, Nickelodeon, and all the other sources of cute and appealing, get their design input, and their icons on the panels.

The problem with marketing EVs and ZEVs and PZEVs (Electric Vehicles and Zero Emission Vehicles and Practically Zero Emission Vehicles) is that you can't compete with the evil large vehicles on the basis of being "impressive performers" or "power and speed to match the imposing looks" - that's like cartoons advertising themselves, like encyclopedias, as "a source of knowledge and learning your family will treasure for generations."

Advertise the cars with cute ads - the Honda Jazz series is a good start - a light-hearted touch, make sure their cute factor outweighs the fact that they will only cost a few cents to recharge, and emphasise the fun factor.  These aren't terrain-conquering, fire-breathing, slide-drifting, competition impressing vehicles, these are a simple and cheap and fun way to get to work, to get the shopping , and to drop the kids to school and appointments.

Also - no showrooms.  You're making these cars as a cheap and plentiful source of transport - right?  Warehouse them, put a dozen models in different paint jobs in supermarket plazas with sign-up booths and home delivery the same day, build on-street dispensers for pick-up right there and then or for delivery to your door same day.  The key is that you get the cars looking like a true commodity that way.

The two biggest reasons the 'smart' car hasn't flooded the market?  They sell them at Mercedes dealerships (where I certainly don't even think to look for a cheap fun small car) and they've priced them wayy too high.  And it still takes as long as a normal vehicle to register and get on-road.  That's wayyyyyy too much to go through for a vehicle that's supposed to be trouble and hassle free.

And - governments wanting to score HUGE environmental points?  Register small (P)(Z)EVs as scooters, i.e. at a very very low price.  Make pre-registered license plates available to the manufacturers, to be attached to pre-sale vehicles and to become activated instantly on sale of the vehicle.  It's included in the price of the vehicle, and if the end user wants a personalised plate they can still do so at a later stage - the important thing is that they have a vehicle right there and then, it was cheap, and it was fun to buy it.

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Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



teddlesruss dat who! said...

TY for your comment, it's good to know someone is reading, and I'll try and keep up the articles.

Bit difficult right now as I've just moved house and still settling in, but I've finally got broadband back on and have some time to sit and develop ideas again.

Glad you find the blog interesting, I'll try to live up to that interest...

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