Fleet News

Web watch: we review what’s hot on the net

THE environmentally- conscious movie stars that Toyota’s Prius has attracted across the Atlantic have helped the Japanese giant establish its petrol-electric branding.

The company recently stated that it wanted to be synonymously linked with hybrid technology before its competitors can get a foothold. Toyota wants ‘to become to hybrid cars what Intel is to PC processors’. It’s a hugely ambitious plan but something in which Toyota is willing to invest $60 million in the US.

Part of this investment is the Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) section of the company’s worldwide website. It opens with a short film: cue atmospheric music and pretentious monologue.

Get past all that and you come to a sky blue spread and a collection of road signs, where users can choose a path to learn about Toyota’s hybrid technology. This extremely Flashy website looks great, and users are swept to their desired destination.

A little ‘gallons of gas saved’ sign ticks away in the foreground. Click on the environment sign and it’s possible to read through a virtual newspaper to learn about the science behind hybrid technology. This also includes a section which helps to make sense of emissions ratings.

Glide to the ‘how it works’ section via the top menu and a combination of videos and text explain the inner workings of a hybrid engine. This section opens up extra windows, which can become irritating when navigating through web pages.

A car comparator is included on the site, allowing users to pit an HSD-powered Toyota against three rivals. There are links to Toyota’s main site if you feel persuaded enough to make the switch to hybrid technology.

This site is a good source of hybrid information with a refreshing approach to web design. It’s just a shame that the UK doesn’t have a site as good as this for hybrid technology.

The lowdown

The site: www.toyota.com/hsd

We like: The transitions between sections are silky smooth

We don’t like: Slow PCs will suffer with the Flash content

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