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In February, Honda started selling its Insight Hybrid and received 18,000 of orders for one month though its monthly sales target was 5,000, making Insight Hybrid 10th in the ranking of car sales by model and 18th in the ranking of car sales; Toyota Prius hybrid was ranked 12th in the former ranking and 20th in the latter ranking.
There seem four kinds of main reasons for the success of Honda Insight hybrid.
First, this success of Honda may owe much to its pricing strategies. There are three kinds of prices available for Honda Insight hybrid: 1.89 million yen (Grade G), 2.09 million yen (Grade L) and 2.21 million yen (Grade LS). Though Japanese needed to pay more than 2 million yen to buy hybrid cars, they now need to pay 1.89 million yen for the cheapest one. As prices of Toyota Prius hybrid start at 2,331,000 yen, Honda Insight hybrid is much cheaper. Normally, when new car model is sold, that of middle prices is most sold, but the cheapest one is most sold among these three, indicating the successful pricing strategies of Honda. Takayoshi Ito, an executive director of Honda, said, ‘Honda is good at producing highly efficient and environmentally friendly cars at affordable prices like Honda Insight hybrid’.
The second reason may be its high efficiency. Experiencing the rapid increase in global fuel prices in 2008 as well as the increasing awareness about the environment, Japanese became more concerned about hybrid cars. According to Kaoru Iguch, a chief of the sales development office in the sales control department of Honda, ‘although prices of gasoline have halved compared to their peak in the last year, the public have been still worried about the increase in its prices in the future and as a result highly interested in hybrid cars’.
Thirdly, many Japanese may want to buy Honda Insight hybrid because it is ‘stylish’. According to Nikkei bp, the top reason of buying Honda Insight hybrid is its appearances and body style. Its straight line from front to rear and its virile front mask mostly attracted many of those who have bought it. People may not be willing to purchase hybrid car if it is not fun. Hybrid car may need to be entertaining.
Finally, related to the first reason, tax reduction for ‘eco car’ may have pushed Japanese to purchase Honda Insight hybrid. Because tax reduction for eco car is to be introduced from this April, owner of eco car can receive 100%, 75% or 50% of reduction for automobile acquisition tax and Automobile weight tax for the next three years from this April. These two kinds of taxes for Honda Insight hybrid as well as Toyota Prius hybrid and Nissan X-Trail (20GT) will be fully exempted, which will be equivalent to 108,500 yen for Honda Insight Hybrid, 122,000 yen for Toyota Prius hybrid and 178,400 yen for Nissan X-Trail (20GT).
Although there can be other reasons, these may be the main reasons for the success of Honda Insight hybrid. Namely, people would not purchase hybrid cars only because they are environmentally friendly. Hybrid cars need to be inexpensive and stylish as well as highly fuel efficient and environmentally friendly if they want to be popular among people. Honda Insight hybrid has been amazingly sold because it is sold at affordable prices; many people are highly concerned about fuel efficiency and the environment; many people think it is stylish; and the Government encourages purchasing hybrid cars by introducing tax reduction measures for ‘eco-car’.
Selling ‘eco products’ may not be so simple and easy even though they are highly environmentally friendly because consumers are selfish or wagamama in Japanese. Eco products may need to be satisfying wagamama consumers and be sold at affordable prices as well as environmentally friendly. If they failed to do so, consumers could not maximize their utility by purchasing them and such products would not become popular among them. Eco-products may become popular among people only when they could satisfy demand of wagamama consumers, which may enrich our lives without sacrificing the environment. Surely, the Government must play a significant role in the success of eco-products through, for instance, tax reduction for them and environmental education. Honda Insight hybrid may indicate the hint of the eco products’ success.