A recent report in the Windsor Star claims the cars Chrysler plans to hybridize by 2013...will be minivans. On top of that, they're even looking at a diesel version of the soccer mom-mobiles, with both to be built at the company's Windsor, Ontario plant.
Details are sketchy, but the Star claims J.D. Power sources say suppliers are gearing up for an iteration of the Two-Mode Hybrid system used on the upcoming Durango/Aspen hybrids and shared with the Tahoe/Yukon hybrid. The report also states that a hybrid Toyota "Sierra" (which we're pretty sure means "Sienna") van is scheduled for 2010, and that diesel minivans from Honda and VW are on the near horizon.
Chrysler's foray into more-efficient vans could be as much for the company as for the consumer, since Chrysler remains near the back of the pack on total fleet fuel efficiency. Adding a hybrid van to the mix would be an effective (if expensive, on the order of $4,000 per unit) way to bump up CAFE numbers while older, larger models are being retooled or dropped completely.
Unlike Chrysler with its Two-Mode, and Toyota, who will presumably use a version of its Hybrid Synergy Drive in the Sienna Hybrid, Honda and VW are likely to exploit their diesel expertise in the Odyssey and Routan, respectively. Honda is reportedly readying a diesel Accord for 2009, providing it with a federally approved oilburner that could be used in Odyssey, while VW has access to its own diesels (which would be a bit small for minivan use) as well as the Mercedes Bluetec unit.
If the idea of a hybrid Grand Caravan or an Odyssey with 400 lb-ft of torque doesn't get you excited, hey, that's okay. What should get you excited is what's on display here: More evidence of the powertrain variety we can expect around the 2010/2011 model year. [Windsor Star]