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Who will be the minivan leader?

by David Zatz on

Across brands, neither Chrysler nor Dodge is likely to take the U.S. minivan crown this year; but together, Chrysler and Dodge easily beat any other brand’s sales. This may be why the plan for 2018 is to have just the Chrysler Town & Country out there, perhaps with a low-end Caravan trim (in 2017, we still expect to see a limited run of old Dodge Grand Caravans).

At the moment (through October 31), the Chrysler Town & Country is running three thousand sales behind the Dodge Caravan — 73,302 vs 76,313. Both are well below their 2014 sales: the Chrysler is down 39% and the Dodge, down 33%.

By comparison, the Honda Odyssey, longest-running of the “Mopar imitators,” is at 107,580 for the year, up by over 3,000 from last year; and the Toyota Sienna is at 115,028, up by over 10,000. The Kia Sedona has rocketed from 8,032 sales to date in 2014 to 32,196 so far in 2015.

FCA’s problem is both a long factory closure and harder competition from Toyota, Honda, and Kia. The Mopar minis, last “re-engineered” in 2008, have gotten new engines, trim, and decorations, but have not clearly leapfrogged their competitors, and Stow ’n’ Go is not enough to sway import-loyal buyers.

The majority of Chrysler minivan sales are at retail; most Dodge minvians are reportedly sold to fleets. Chrysler’s prices and trim start roughly where Dodge leaves off, and they are probably much more profitable..

In October, with shortages cleared up, demand for the Dodge was higher than demand for the Town & Country, a troubling sign.  Dodge’s sales were up 21%, and Dodge closely beat Chrysler (up just 4%) in October. Chrysler still has a chance to overcome Dodge, if retail buyers return in November and December.

The 2017 minivans can’t come soon enough for Chrysler.

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