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Americans should be able to buy the 7 seat Prius V available in the rest of the world
The Toyota motor company needs to offer the option of ordering a 7 seat Prius V in North America.
Why is this important?
Hi - I, like many of us eco-conscious parents would love to have a fuel efficient vehicle to carry 7 passengers but are stuck with mini-vans or SUVs if we want to carry a larger group. The only fuel efficient 7 seat car on the market is a Tesla, starting at $70,000, this vehicle is out of the range of many. Imagine my delight when I found that the Toyota Prius V offers a 7 seat option - a 40 mpg 7 seat car! And then I found this model is offered world-wide but not in the Americas. First, the excuse that the batteries were different - the US model used a cheaper larger Ni -metal hydride battery which did not allow the space for the third row seat. This changed with the 2016 models - all Prius V's now use the smaller lithium ion battery - When I heard of this upgrade I waited anxiously for the new release of the 2016 model. Surely we could now have the 7 seat option?
But no! Toyota still does not offer this package even as an option - and when I have inquired from corporate sources they claim it is because "Americans don't want a small 7 seat car." Interestingly, I hear the opposite from nearly every parent I mention this to. The response I get is "Wow! I would get that in a minute!" Even a floor salesperson at our local Toyota exclaimed "if there was a 7 seat Prius, we couldn't keep it on the lot!"
I believe that Toyota is trying to force consumers into more expensive, less fuel efficient cars to improve their bottom line - now that the batteries are the same there is simply no reason the 7 seat model could not be offered as an option...except it might decrease their sales of Highlanders and mini-vans. (This is the option the company gave me in emails and phone calls)
Toyota needs to be called out on this. Imagine the improvement there would be in emissions if just a percentage of families switched out of their 7 seat SUVS into a eco-friendly hybrid car....
-ps - as for the argument I have occasionally read that the reason Toyota does not release the 7 seat Prius in the US "is because American safety laws are too stringent for a 7th row." Poppycock! When the V was released with 5 seats and no 7 seat option in the US markets, spokespeople never used different safety requirements as a reason - what is sited in numerous articles was the higher cost to use the smaller battery or lack of space for "Americas typically larger build." Further EU and Australian safety standards are hardly lax.