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Minivan clues or sliding-door pickups?

by David Zatz on

One of Chrysler’s most important vehicles since 1984 has been its minivans; though the company can no longer count on being #1 and #2 in minivan sales, they remain #1 by far if the Dodge and Chrysler variants are combined, and each of the two is invariably in the top four in U.S. sales.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has already announced that the basic chassis of the new minivans has been created, that plans are currently for just one brand to keep a minivan while the other gets a related crossover, and that the new minivan architecture will be new and allow for all wheel drive to return after a long absence. A recent patent filing showed a new seat-stowage system, which appears to both provide room for all wheel drive and might allow middle seats to be stowed without having to push the front seats all the way forward.


Another new patent, brought to our attention by Steven St. Laurent, may show the next minivan’s revised sliding-door system. From the outside, the main difference is the appearance of a short length of visible track; currently, Chrysler has no visible track, though Honda Odyssey does. As with most current designs, there are three tracks to provide support.

This design, because it requires so little exposed track, would be a visual compromise, but more importantly, would allow for sliding  doors to be used with currently-fashionable plunging rooflines, though that design cue reduces interior space.

Past sliding doors have normally been restricted to vans and minivans, which have a relatively flat side past the door opening, but the patent application claims that this design can be used for crossovers, sedans, and pickup trucks as well.  (Indeed, that seems to be the only benefit for the new design, according to the text.)

Could a sliding door be implemented on a Ram for better access to the rear? Or perhaps on a car or SUV? Might the Journey end up with a sliding door option?

The drawing bears some resemblance to the Chrysler 700 concept minivan, but “the rear C-pillar ‘funky design’ window was changed to a normal design.” Perhaps our renderings will be close to what Chrysler actually starts producing at the end of next year… albeit with a short track in the side.

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