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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,
Time for a letter writing campaign.
Apparently, Toyota has canceled the US Estima.
I have made three inquiries to Toyota. The unanimous answer is that Toyota now has no plans to introduce the Estima into the US market.
nathan
 
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I talked to a Toyota dealer at the Columbus, Ohio car show. I asked if he knew of any future hybrid models, specifically I wondered if a Hybrid Camry would be made. He mentioned that Toyota is planning to introduce a Hybrid Sequoia and possibly a Hybrid Sienna in 2003, but there was no immediate plans for another hybrid sedan. From the looks of the Sienna and Sequoia I would guess they are built on the same drivetrain so it makes sense that they could built it on either body. So Toyota may have abandoned the Estima for the Sienna in the US.

No sooner had I asked that than a few people asked if they would consider making Hybrid Matrix. He said he was getting a lot of requests for a Matrix Hybrid and has been reporting this to Toyota.

I will also mention that the Honda dealers at the car show were rude and brushed off my questions on the Hybrid Civic. Basically the answer I was told is the Hybrid Civic is the same as the Civic LX except chrome highlights inside, but no other information. So it looks like my next car purchase is going to be a Prius, although I will try a few dealers to drive the Civic before I make my final decision.
 
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My friend wrote to Toyota and got this response:

Recently you contacted Toyota National Customer Assistance Center. Below is a summary of your contact message and our response.



Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject
Prius and Sienna

Discussion Thread
Response (Michael) 04/09/2002 09:19 AM
Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

We appreciate your interest in a hybrid Sienna. Toyota does not currently have any plans to introduce a hybrid Sienna. We are, however, aware of consumer interest, and consistently strive to remain competitive in today's market.

Your comments and interest in this type of vehicle have been documented at our National Headquarters under file #200204090392. We appreciate your input.

If we may be of further assistance, please contact us via email or by calling 800-331-4331. We are available from 6 AM to 6 PM, Pacific Time, Monday through Friday.

National Customer Relations
 
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When I purchased my Prius this week I mentioned a few people at work were interested in hybrid SUV's specifically the Ford Escape.

The salesman said the current plan is for a Hybrid Highlander in the 2004 model. More hybrid vehicles are also supposed to come out during that time, but the models haven't been decided on.

I wonder why Toyota is thinking of a bigger SUV, maybe because there is more room for a more powerful motor and larger capacity batteries.
 
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I think the sales figures of large SUVs tell the story. Large SUVs sell great in the US - Toyota wants their share thus the larger hybrid versus the smaller ones. I don't really think it has anything to do with the engineering of the vehical - just the sales. Imagine this :

2004 summer (hottest on record - oil embargo -defacto with war in mideast) - Gas prices in US now at 2.50$ average per gallon (still cheaper than anywhere else because we just bombed Iraq again.). Chrysler still to release any efficient large,same as the other US SUV makers,
Republicans in congress still swearing that SUVs are safer than normal cars - despite increased NTSB statistical rollover deaths..

Toyota releases Highlander - towing capacity 7000 lbs, 35 MPG - acceleration 0-60 7 seconds - carrying capacity - 8 pax - etc etc etc...

I think Toyota sees that and figures it will take over the market for heavy SUVs..

Just guessing here..

steve d.
NYS - '02 super white 12,500 miles

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OOPS, I seem to have been confused on the size. The Highlander is actually smaller than the Sequoia, I hadn't looked at them before, just based the sizes off pictures and misread the brochure.

So Toyota actually is going for a smaller SUV good for them. The main problem I have with large SUV's is that they tear up the roads. I wonder how much of a weight difference there is between HEV and gas only SUV's of the same model.

Ron.
'02 blue moon pearl just purchased.
 
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Toyota hybrids rebranded?

Hi all,
Despite Toyota's hybrid undercapacity, it appears that Toyota will offer their hybrids to other manufacturers. Bold strategy. If GM bites, crow-eating big time.
If Honda is the hybrid "rump" (below, ouch), what can we call Detroit? I wonder if the "Coaster" is some kind of bus, pretty constant demand at 10 per annum.
cheers, nathan

http://www.auto-asia.com/viewcontent.asp?pk=7117
24/4/2002: Toyota may supply hybrid vehicles on OEM basis

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Toyota has announced that global cumulative sales of its hybrid vehicles have passed the 100,000 market in March, giving the Japanese giant an estimated 90% share of the fledgling global hybrid market (the rump being claimed by Honda). And now, in a bid to achieve better economies of scale, Toyota is looking seriously at the idea of supplying hybrids to other automakers.
Some while ago Toyota announced its intention to lift annual hybrid vehicle output 10-fold to 300,000 units by 2005. This lofty goal would be more credible if Toyota supplies other automakers on an OEM basis.
Hiroyuki Watanabe, senior managing director in charge of environmentally friendly technology, says Toyota has already held discussions with other rival carmakers on the subject. No final decision has been taken, however, and Toyota is not yet ready to identify the firms it has been talking to.

Toyota boosted its green credentials by launching the world’s first production hybrid car, the Prius, in December 1997. But as long as hybrids remain a small niche in the market, volumes remain low and production costs high. If the 300,000 output mark could be achieved, the company reckons unit costs would be halved.

There is no doubt that Toyota, along with Honda, have a clear lead in the application of hybrid powertrain technology but they need to start making some return on their heavy investment before hybrids are superceded by fuel cell cars – the first of which are due out in 2005 and are expected to be widely available by 2015. General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are expected to launch stop-gap hybrids in 2003 and 2004 but they have made it clear that volumes will remain fairly low.

Toyota say its hybrid business in now making a profit, albeit a slim one. It has several models in its hybrid stable ranging from an updated Prius to a hybrid version of its Estima people carrier and a ‘mild’ hybrid version of its large Crown sedan. The latter is less efficient but much less expensive.

Honda’s hybrid line-up comprises the Insight two-seater and a version of the Civic subscompact. Cumulative sales since November 1999 are less than 13,000 units. In contrast, Toyota sold 37,000 hybrids last year alone.


TOYOTA HYBRID VEHICLE SALES BY MODEL


1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 (1-3)

Prius 323 17,653 15,243 19,011 29,459 7,402
Estima 0 0 0 0 5,886 5,840
Crown 0 0 0 0 1,574 520
Coaster 9 3 12 15 9 8
Total 332 17,656 33,243 52,269 89,197 13,770
Cum 332 17,988 33,243 52,2269 89,197 102,967
 
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Re: Toyota hybrids rebranded?

I guess that link isn't quite correct, sorry. Go to <http://www.carsontoyota.com/master_future.html>, and click on E4 Hybrid Mini Van.

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Drive train and manufacturing concerns can't be the issue, because Toyota already sells a hybrid minivan in Japan. I really, really wish they'd hurry up and adapt it for use in the US too. It must be purely that minivans aren't as popular as SUVs here. BLEAH.

:(
 
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