Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mini-vain and ashamed

This is my dream car. Only available in Japan. The Toyota Estima minivan which first came out in 2001 and has been redesigned this year. I'm not ashamed to say it. I am ashamed of how I got here.

When I was pregnant with our first child, we bought a Passat. My husband tried to get me to buy a minivan, but I categorically refused. I had this "eww!" reaction. It's funny, because I'm not really a car person. I want quality and reliability. Stylishness and image are not really on my list. Or so I thought.

My previous car was a Honda Civic hatchback. When I used to work in middle management at an Internet company, the people that worked for me used to rib me about my car. I occasionally thought "maybe I should get a more 'managerial car'." but I never did. I count on my Civic to always work. It fits five people and tons of stuff. The only thing that makes it less kid friendly than the Passat is it has just two doors. So you have to push down the seats to get at the kids. Plus the doors are pretty heavy.

But somehow a minivan symbolized something awful to me back then. I've always wanted to be a mom. But moms in minivans are a shamed group.

After child #2 , it became clear that the Passat was in fact antisocial, and very environmentally unfriendly. With today's car seats, it fits just our family of four...and a very skinny person who can squeeze between two car seats. So far we only know two people that can fit. But not another car seat. We don't want another child of our own. However as child #1 heads off to kindergarten this fall, we do want another child in our car, so we can carpool. So later this year, we'll buy a minivan, a Toyota Sienna

I feel ashamed of the incredible waste. My Civic is 11 years old, and my husband still drives it to work everyday. But we'll give up our Passat after just six years. I know some folks buy a new car every two years, but the Civic is the first car I bought new and only the second I've ever owned.

I really wish the hybrid minivan was here already, so at least I could say that I was holding out for a hybrid minivan.

A hybrid SUV is pretty environmentally unfriendly too. They're actually lower MPG than say a Prius and hold as many people, though I do admit they hold more gear.

But even so the environmental costs of buying a new car usually far outweigh keeping your old one. I feel ashamed that I listened to marketing and media instead of the common sense of my husband.

I share my shame with you in the hopes that someone reading this will learn from me as an example of what not to do.

But I'm also annoyed that every car maker under the sun is coming out with hybrid SUVs, but no minvans. Come on automakers. Surely, there's just as big if not bigger untapped market of environmentally conscious minivan mamas? Or is it just a weird artifact of the Bay Area and everyone else in the US is so minishamed that they'd rather buy an SUV?

No comments: