Can A 33 MPG Toyota Hybrid Minivan Turn Mama On?
SEE ALSO: It's Time For A Minivan Ladies
July 2020; Despite the minivan’s reputation for being a family vehicle, minivans today actually have a quite diverse demographic that spans age ranges and family makeup. With a median age of 54, the current market of new minivan owners is made up of nearly as many Baby Boomers as Gen Y and just as many families without children as families with children. What does this diversity mean? The minivan product planner has to look beyond demographics and find the driving force behind minivan purchases.
Fuel Economy is a Common Denominator
Minivan owners drive more. According to AutoPacific’s New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey data, 59% of minivan owners expect to drive more than 11,000 miles per year, compared to 51% of the remaining market. Additionally, 86% of minivan owners say that fuel economy is important to them, yet more than a quarter of owners rate their current fuel economy satisfaction a 3 or less on a 5-point scale. Unfortunately, minivan owners’ desire for good fuel economy and their dissatisfaction with what they currently get does not bode well for future minivan demand.
The task? A hybrid minivan that costs the same as a gasoline minivan. Not an easy task to achieve for most manufacturers, given the behind-the-scenes requirements for incorporating a hybrid powertrain into a lineup. While Chrysler’s Pacifica is available as a PHEV that gets over 30 miles per gallon, it carries a premium price tag over the standard gasoline model due to its large battery pack. However, Toyota’s 2021 Sienna, the first minivan to launch with a standard hybrid powertrain (without a plug), seems to fit the bill.
According to Ed Kim, AutoPacific vice president of Industry Analysis, “Toyota’s long-term vision for hybrids has resulted in them having a cost advantage over others and afforded them the ability to do a high mix of hybrid powertrains at less cost than competitors.” The 2021 Sienna gets 33 miles per gallon from a standard hybrid powertrain (a 57% improvement from the gasoline-only 2020 Sienna), making it a game changer in the minivan market. “The introduction of minivans with hybrid powertrains delivering more than 30 miles per gallon will certainly boost the selling proposition for minivans”, says Kim.