Toyota previews 2010 Prius at April luncheon
By Paul Borden - Photos by Pepe Delfino

Those SAMA members who missed the national and regional launches for the 2010 Toyota Prius got a second -- make that third -- opportunity to check it out at our April 30 luncheon at the Rusty Pelican.

With presentations from Dick Kelley from Toyota's Southeast Public Affairs office here in Miami and Mike Herring from Southeast Toyota Distributors in Deerfield Beach, luncheon attendees were given a close look at the third generation of the Japanese automaker's iconic hybrid, which is slightly bigger, moving from compact into the midsize sedan category, and even more fuel efficient than its predecessors. 

That Toyota has established itself as the leader in hybrid technology is backed up by this staggering figure from Herring, who is the area training officer for SET: $25 million. 
According to the most recent information available, that is what Toyota is spending a day on research and development worldwide to remain the leader in automotive technology. We’ll save you the math. That figures out to be more than $1 million an hour and more than $9 billion a year! Kelley said the company is still on track to have hybrid versions of its entire lineup of Toyota models by the 2020s, which, as he noted, isn't all that far off. 

After the presentation, the 32 members in attendance were given a walk-around of the vehicle, which is about as close to an all-new vehicle as you are going to get in a third generation. About 90 percent of 2010 Prius' features have been redesigned or reengineered from the second generation, which was introduced in 2003. 

MEMBERS VOTE TO UPHOLD FEB. ELECTIONS 

Kelley and Herring made their presentation after lunch. Before the meal was served, Vice President Paul Borden conducted the business session in the absence of President Ron Beasley.

The most important item was the announcement of a re-examination of the proposed new election. Paul said that after several members had asked why the results of the February election were being tossed out; three officers (Borden, Secretary Jaime Florez and Treasurer Bill Adam) decided to ask all the members present how they felt about this. 
Borden pointed out that because we are changing the SAMA fiscal year, to begin on Jan. 1 instead of July 1, we have an opportunity to re-consider our election procedures and other by-laws and then conduct a new election later this year, most likely at the November meeting, with new officers to assume their positions on January 1. 

Pepe Delfino, who made the original motion at the February meeting that the officers who have served since the beginning of SAMA in March 2007, be re-elected, then made an impassioned plea that the membership keep things in focus and not stray from our original intent, which was to provide an opportunity for media members and others in the automotive community to get together and share ideas and learn more about the industry and the products being offered. 

We all share a common purpose and emphasizing procedural matters over content and purpose can eventually create dissension within an organization such as ours, he pointed out. This is exactly what has happened in many other groups, with members taking sides during elections and eventually splitting the group. Pepe did stress, however, that the writing of by-laws would provide firm guidelines, not only for elections but for other association business as well, and it was noted that this is in the works.

John Kiskinis asked if the idea of having two vice presidents, which was announced at the meeting on April 16, would be put in place now or later, and Paul said that was one of the things the other officers wanted to take a second look at and the idea would be presented to the members at a later meeting.

Borden also announced that Ron Beasley, who had said he wanted to decline to serve another full year as president, had agreed he would serve out the rest of 2009 if that is what the members desired. 

After it was established there was a quorum of members present, Pepe made a motion to that effect and Juan Robbin once again seconded. A vote was taken, and the motion for the present officers to continue until Dec. 31 was approved by an overwhelming 29-3 margin. Before the end of the year, there will be a new election, with the new officers taking office on Jan. 1 to serve through 2010.

On a slightly less complicated note, treasurer Bill Adam reported that our current bank balance is a healthy $7,630.05. That should easily cover expenses expected to arise with future business luncheons, the annual holiday party and miscellaneous items in conjunction with our awards presentations.

Once again, we thank Toyota and Dick Kelley (and Bonnie Jeyam, too!) for stepping up and sponsoring the April 30 luncheon. 

Click on pictures to enlarge