Toyota Sienna Hybrid
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There is greater confusion among hybrid enthusiasts right now over the Toyota Sienna Hybrid, than over any other hybrid possibility out there. Depending on who you talk to, the Sienna Hybrid is coming out this fall, next year 2011, or (rarely) never. Any press releases Toyotamay have made on the subject (most likely none) are impossible to find.
Minivans make up a large percentage of US auto sales; and the ongoing rumors have fueled the hopes and dreams of thousands of minivan owners, including the 18,000 people who petitioned Toyota to bring a hybrid minivan to the US market.
The Sienna is primarily an American vehicle, designed for the US market, manufactured in Indiana, and mainly sold in the US. Toyota has other minivan models designed specifically to other countries, as well. Toyota does have one hybrid minivan in production- the Estima Hybrid in Japan- but they are apparently reluctant to bring it to the US, for fear of brand competition with the Sienna.
Most speculation about the Sienna focuses on the Estima, suggesting that Toyota will take the existing hybrid systems of the Estima, and adapt them to the Sienna, or that the stats on the Estima make a good guess as to what a Sienna Hybrid might be capable of. Other speculation suggests that rather then adapting the Estima systems, Toyota might instead use a system similar to that in the Highlander Hybrid and Lexus Hybrid SUVs.
What little relatively solid information is available, from sources close to Toyota, and the Indiana factory, suggest that a Sienna Hybrid will of course use the Hybrid Synergy Drive, the system used in all Toyota hybrids; and that production of a Sienna Hybrid will depend on a combination of the availability of HSD parts, and the ability of the Indiana plant to manufacture a hybrid vehicle.
Some photos are available on the web of what is described as a Sienna Hybrid with a right mounted steering wheel. However, a closer look shows that the display plate reads Estima.
With no solid information on even a prototype Sienna Hybrid, any information really needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. Hopefully solid information will be available soon. The mothers, who buy minivans for getting kids and equipment to games, dance class and scouting overnights, tend to be extremely environmentally conscious, and all available evidence suggests that they are salivating at the thought of a hybrid minivan.
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