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Minivan replacement postponed? (Corrected)

by David Zatz on

Earlier today, a story described how the next generation of minivans may have been postponed. However, as recently as Monday, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne  said that the minivans will be on  a new platform by 2014, and a source within the plan said that the retooling downtime remains on the schedule for calendar year 2013.

Even if the story leaked earlier, presumably as part of CAW contract negotiations, was true and the minivans were not due for a complete replacement until 2017, the minivans could be upgraded dramatically within their current basic structure. Observers expect the Chrysler Town & Country and, if reports of the Grand Caravan’s demise are not accurate, its Dodge sibling to get substantial upgrades, including a nine-speed ZF automatic which would raise gas mileage and acceleration; further interior upgrades; sheet metal changes; and updates to the electronic infrastructure to allow the next-generation UConnect systems and other improvements. Many expect the minivans to get the new 3.2 liter Pentastar V6 when it arrives, possibly replacing the 3.6 and possible joining it. Hybrid versions and sports editions have been mentioned as possibilities, albeit unlikely ones, along with using a VM diesel (as European Chrysler Voyagers do). These upgrades would not depend on a move to a new platform.

2011 minivan

Chrysler has had the sales lead in minivans in the US and Canada every year since 1984, albeit in one year only by adding the Chrysler and Dodge versions together. In most years, both (or all three) Chrysler vans were the sales leaders. Recently, Honda and Toyota have made inroads, but have not taken over despite Chrysler’s cutbacks (cutting the short wheelbase version and moving to a shared suspension tuning in 2008, and using a single engine starting in 2011).

Many expect the Dodge Grand Caravan to be dropped from the American roster in 2013 or 2014. Sergio Marchionne has talked about going with one minivan and one Pacifica-like minivan-based crossover; in Canada the Grand Caravan is a perennial favorite, while in the US customers have flocked to the higher-priced Chrysler version.

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