UCS Launches Campaign to Get Toyota to Bring Estima Hybrid Minivan to US
20 April 2007
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has launched a campaign to encourage Toyota to bring its Estima hybrid minivan to the US market.
The Estima hybrid currently sells in Japan, but not in the US.
Hybrid technology should be giving US consumers fuel-efficient, low-pollution options in all vehicle classes. However, more and more hybrid models are being introduced that focus on increased muscle rather than mileage. In Japan, by contrast, families have a choice completely unavailable in America—a hybrid minivan with fuel economy on par with a compact car. We estimate that the Toyota Estima Hybrid could reach around 35 miles per gallon in the United States.
UCS is asking for signatures on an on-line petition that it will deliver to Toyota executives on Memorial Day—the unofficial start of the summer driving (and higher gas price) season, and just before the Toyota annual shareholders meeting.
What the UCS does not understand is that minivans are a shrinking market segment here. The Chevy Uplander and its sisters, for instance, is based on a ten-year old platform. In their recent paper emissions exercise they used a minivan. What they should have done was use a mid-sized SUV or CUV.
Toyota was smart to market a Highlander hybrid SUV instead.
Posted by: Cervus | 21 April 2007 at 09:54 AM
the real problem is that the estima hybrid, based on the estima minivan, was known as the toyota pervia in the us and hasn't been sold here for a really long time. bringing it back would kind of weird.
what toyota does need to do is make a hybrid sienna. the sienna is especially well-suited for the application with its low city mileage of 18 mpg.
Posted by: lensovet | 21 April 2007 at 10:18 AM
UCS is completely right about this. A hybrid minivan makes total sense for its applications- lots of short trips, picking up and dropping off passengers and gear. In fact, the hybrid minivan might be the best consumer hybrid application, for on a mpg per passenger basis it cannot be beat.
Posted by: Green Destiny | 22 April 2007 at 09:28 AM
This would be great - we would love to be able to buy a hybrid Previa in Europe, we just get the diesel.
(And Petrol of course)
Posted by: mahonj | 22 April 2007 at 01:50 PM
Minivans are shrinking market for all companies including Toyota, Honda & Chrysler while GM & Ford are discontinuing it.
The CUV's which are nealy a foot shorter than typical minivan can carry 7/8 passengers and thats good enough.
What Toyota has to work is on Plugin Prius.
Posted by: Max Reid | 22 April 2007 at 03:34 PM
What CUV's are those? As a person very familiar with what people are carrying around, and also knowledgeable about vehicles, CUVs and minivans are really different birds.
Posted by: Green Destiny | 22 April 2007 at 06:53 PM
Hybrid minivans are a great idea. Sure the amrket is shrinking for minivans in general but the options are shrinking too. I'm pretty sure Honda and Toyota are stil making money here. There is a 2009 Seinna on it's way in late 2008 that is rumored to get 40 MPG! We have an SUV and know others with minivans and for family type hauling minivans are far superior and my image is going to be fine driving one;) I will be buying one when they bring it.
Posted by: TV | 01 June 2007 at 10:05 AM
Sorry that was a 2009 Hybrid Seinna:) Not just the 2009 Seinna.
Posted by: TV | 01 June 2007 at 10:07 AM
Minivan sales are shrinking in part because there isn't one that can get a higher than a combined 21 mpg! Its too costly to drive them. Do you think people have stopped having kids or wanting to carry cargo? If GM and Ford are discontinuing them then it sounds like there will be more buyers for Toyota and this would be a good time for them to hit the market with something spectacular before the domestic auto makers adjust. The Alphard would be a big hit.
I was told by Canadian dept of transportation that we cant import anything made in a different country until it is at least 15 years old. This is to protect the domestic automakers.
I suggest we organize a boycott of domestic automakers until the government sees that they are worse off and only a free market spurred by technological advances will save them.
Posted by: eric | 23 June 2008 at 07:24 AM