Who Killed the Hybrid Minivan?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Where would we be without Digg? Thanks to the collective hysteria of a thousand Diggers, we learn that the Gas 2.0 blog is baffled by the fact that Toyota builds an AWD hybrid minivan that gets 40 mpg and doesn’t sell it stateside. Gas 2.0’s Nick Chambers has fond memories for Toyota’s old Previa, and damns its US-market replacement, the Sienna for being a gas hog. But the spiritual successor to the Previa, the Estima, has been sold to the Japanese in hybrid form since 2001. The baffling unfairness of it all even had the Union of Concerned Scientists in a tizzy, circulating an online petition urging Toyota to bring the Estima hybrid to the states. Which it almost certainly won’t. A hybrid Sienna is considered likely to arrive sometime around 2010, but that’s not impressing people who are new to the concept that US-market vehicles consistenly lag behind Euro- and J-market offerings in efficiency. “Yo, Toyota,” writes Chambers, “you’ve already got a minivan that half of the families in the US would kill for, what the hell are you doing investing so much energy in redesigning a has-been?” Dude, if you love it so much just buy one. Oh wait, does that say it costs $39,600? Now it’s starting to make sense…

Join the conversation
4 of 17 comments
  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Sep 24, 2008

    Dammit, no YouTube at work foils me again!

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Sep 25, 2008

    Isn't there still a good amount of favoritism shown to hybrid only vehicles vs. hybrid versions of existing models? Maybe bringing over a different model altogether would be a better strategy.

  • TomAnderson TomAnderson on Sep 25, 2008

    I think it's neat looking and appears to be pretty peppy off the line (then again I drive a Mercedes-Benz 300 SD, so most vehicles look quick). They'd have at least one guaranteed sale if they brought it here: Brangelina.

  • 200k-min 200k-min on Sep 25, 2008

    If I had a nickel for everytime a co-worker or friend hasn't bemused why Toyota or Honda do not offer hybrid options on their popular minivans. Honestly, this is something where there is strong demand as most people I know with 2+ kids traded in their Tahoes & Expeditions for minivans back when gas hit $3. Now that the pump prices are up another dollar they're asking why they can't get Camry type MPG's out of the kid hauler. TTAC readers tend to veer towards the driving enthusiasts side and seem to like the small people haulers like the Mazda 5, etc. But most people I know still want larger for the strollers, dog, room for grandma, etc. My local Honda dealer has said on several occasions he can't keep an Odyssey on the lot. As fuel prices rise and the economic pinch gets tighter the minivan drivers I know will be looking at any and all available options for staying in the larger vehicle. Seems like a perfect void the Detroit 2.8 could fill....if they could make a halfway decent people hauler.