Next time a devastating earthquake strikes, pray that you drive a Toyota hybrid.
That's the not-so-subtle message from Toyota after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that left hundreds of thousands homeless and without power.
At a recent press conference, President Akio Toyoda sang the praises of the gasoline-electric cars in aiding survivors. In what appeared to be a tightly scripted answer to a journalist's question, Toyoda said, in remarks translated below, that disaster victims have complained about power outages and gasoline shortages. He said many people have written to him saying Toyota's hybrids solve both problems.
"They said, 'I'm glad I have a hybrid vehicle' because hybrid vehicles have a very long driving range," Toyoda said. "And because of that, if they had not been using hybrid vehicles, they would be among those people queuing up for gasoline. They didn't have to because they had hybrids."
Then there's the blackout factor.
"In some of the letters sent to me, people complained about ... the lack of electricity supply," Toyoda continued. "But they have the Estima hybrid and were able to use electricity stored in the Estima to charge mobile phones or warm up emergency supplies or food."
It's a good time to use the quake as a reminder that hybrids have some advantages over gasoline-powered vehicles. With thousands of quake survivors looking to replace the cars washed away in the tsunami, memories of the disaster just might shape that next purchase.