TO: Jim Press
Toyota North America
19001 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, CA 90509
You’re killing me.
Well, not really, but your counterparts in Japan won’t let us Americans in on the best kept secret in the hybrid vehicle world today—the Estima Hybrid minivan. Yes, this slightly smaller than the Sienna, but still seven-plus seat minivan has been cruising around the Japanese highways and byways since 2001 getting around 40 mpg on the Japanese fuel economy test (it would be different in the U.S.). I believe the market forces at work here in America would tell you that the Estima hybrid could be as big a success in America as your new Camry hybrid is poised to be.
I, like many in America, have kids. My other car is a station wagon, but the time has already come when grandparents come to town, or my boys’ friends are over for a playdate, and five seats (especially with two car seats) is not enough. Many American families need more seats, and the best fuel economy on the market for a minivan with an automatic transmission is the Honda Odyssey 23mpg. Quite simply—not good enough for me to even consider trading in the ole’ wagon.
On the other hand, a 40mpg minivan with as many as eight seats—that’s a revelation, and I want in. And not only has the Estima been around for a while, but you are still making it better. I just found this press release on your website in Japan showing the really attractive redesigned Estima that uses a new hybrid system to get 47 mpg on the Japanese fuel economy tests. Let me repeat—I want in. I’m man enough to admit that I want a minivan. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
The continued sales strength of the Prius and other hybrids that combine solid performance with outstanding economy should tell you something about how to keep American hybrid sales sizzling. And what it should be telling you is Estima—now. Shove that steering wheel on the left side of the car, program those computers in English, and get ‘em shipped over here. I know it is not really that simple, but my family needs this minivan yesterday. Please, bring the Estima minivan hybrid to the U.S. as soon as you can or at least get a hybrid version of the Sienna to the market ASAP!
As President of Toyota in North America, we need you to serve as an advocate for your consumer base.
Thanks for your consideration, and the cool Prius my wife loves so much.
Posted by: ScottN