bitguru blog

a guru of bits, or just a bit player?

hybrid minivans

Posted by bitguru on October 25, 2007

I’m in the market for a hybrid gasoline-electric minivan, but there are none on the North American market. (They do sell them in Japan.) Toyota and Honda (and possibly Dodge/Chrysler with its new “two-mode” hybrid system) could be manufacturing them for the American market if they had the inclination, but apparently they don’t. Toyota has shown the most interest over the years.

In 2003 Forbes expected to see a hybrid Toyota Sienna in 2004. In 2004 USA Today predicted a hybrid Sienna for 2005. In 2005 the Capital Times (of Madison, Wisconsin) reported that a hybrid Sienna was due for 2006. When I asked some Toyota guys at an auto show in January, they thought I wouldn’t be able to buy a hybrid Sienna until August 2008.

Today’s (or, it seems, actually tomorrow’s) Wall Street Journal says Tokuichi Uranishi (Toyota’s head of global sales, though they misspell his name since corrected) “strongly suggested he favors offering a hybrid minivan in the U.S. market” but that “no decisions have been made about that.” Hmm, I guess I won’t be able to buy a hybrid Sienna in August after all.

Today’s Los Angeles Times also quotes Uranishi: “I think we should have a minivan hybrid in the U.S.” Both papers hint that Toyota thinks hybrid-only models (such as Prius) will sell better than hybrid versions of existing cars (such as hybrid Camry or hybrid Highlander). The presumption is that buyers want a vehicle with a distinctive look so they can easily show off their green cred.

Honda has evidently come to the same conclusion, so perhaps it’s true, but personally I don’t care about green cred. And I’d rather buy a hybrid Sienna (or Odyssey, or Caravan) sooner rather than a distinctive-looking hybrid-only minivan later.

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7 Responses to “hybrid minivans”

  1. Alan Cole said

    What about a conventional gasoline- or diesel-powered car styled to resemble a hybrid?

    Better yet, what about a Prius customized by taking out the hybrid power assembly & putting in a Chrysler Hemi V8?

    Meanwhile, when will Toyota & Honda & the others come out with their version of Stow & Go minivan mid-row & rear seats? Till they do, Stow & Go fans are limited to Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan.

    So it goes.

  2. Alan Cole said

    Whoa! All-new blog format — with no contrabass picture. A change for the better? Or just a change?

  3. […] The Mazda5 is a small minivan with 2/2/2 seating. It’s available in the U.S. but it seems the hybrid HRE will be for Japan only. […]

  4. […] The Telegraph reports that four new Honda hybrids are coming, including a two-door sporty car, but doesn’t actually say what the fourth hybrid model will be. Dare I hope for a hybrid minivan? […]

  5. […] BusinessWeek reports: “By 2010, Toyota is also believed to be planning two more dedicated hybrid models, including a new hybrid minivan.“ […]

  6. […] announcing plug-in hybrid vehicles “targeted to be produced in 2010 for consumers in North American markets.” […]

  7. […] this week Ford announced that it will introduce a battery-powered van in 2010 […]

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