Toyota Canada engineers WOM

The 2010 Prius launch revved up with an invitation-only event seeded through online buzz.

The wee early morning hours of a Valentine’s Day are usually reserved for slumbering lovers and their cutesy breakfasts in bed. But this year, Toyota Canada decided it was better suited to some TLC action for Prius lovers.

A select group of green motorists were invited to show up at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto at 7:30 am on Saturday, to spend some up-close-and-personal time inside the new 2010 Prius, making them among the first in Canada to explore the next-gen car, otherwise locked and out of reach on turntables during the public hours of the show. Some 65 Prius owners showed up at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and following breakfast were offered walkabouts with ‘Hybrid Experts’ and engineers from Toyota Canada, who answered questions about the technology.

The invitation-only event was the first of its kind for Toyota Canada, and part of a new grassroots-style approach led by online word-of-mouth buzz-generating efforts. Leading up to the event, key enthusiast groups and networks were encouraged to visit the Prius microsite, where they could watch behind-the-scenes videos of Toyota engineers at work with the new Prius, and send eco-friendly, customizable Valentine’s Day cards, delivered to their sweetheart’s in-boxes, courtesy of a virtual 2010 Prius.

Testimonials and vids from the Valentine’s Day event will also be uploaded to the site in the coming days, in advance of trade and auto show events planned across the country including the BC Home & Garden Show, the Edmonton Motorshow, the Green Living Show and the Toronto National Home Show, leading up to the Prius’ June launch.