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What do little Jeeps and big vans have in common?

by David Zatz on

Sales numbers bump around a lot, but sometimes patterns emerge — and this month, two big ones showed up.

First, the rise of the little crossovers, with Jeep Compass and Renegade both doubling their sales figures from April 2015. This is the trend Sergio Marchionne was talking about when he rationalized dropping Dart and 200 development (Dart fell by 49% and 200 by 60%). The Compass has been around for years; yet its sales doubled. The new-ish Renegade still beat it. The Patriot, similar in most ways to the Compass, posted a 10% gain.

The small-crossover story continues “out of brand” with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V beating the Civic and Corolla, respectively. Only the Toyota Camry beat its crossover version. (Fiat’s 500X+500L together outsold last year’s 500L alone, but those numbers are still minimal: all Fiats combined hit 3,045.)

As for the big vans, both the Chrysler Town & Country and Caravan soared. The relatively inexpensive Caravan more than doubled in sales, rising 116% to 13,203 for the month — beating every other Dodge and every Chrysler (but only coming in middlin’ by Jeep standards). The pricier Town & Country hit 9,195 sales. It’s possible that some of this is due to incentives, as the company clears lots for the new Pacifica; and some may be from customers seeking to get a cheap Dodge minivan while they can, not realizing that the Dodge will stay in production for around another year.

Perhaps minivans are just having a good month: at Honda, Odyssey sales rose by 13%, hitting 13,047. But at Toyota, Sienna sales dropped by 8% to 10,795. It looks like this is an FCA phenomenon, and it’s pushed the Caravan to #1 best selling minivan in the US for April.  Year to date, the Odyssey clocks in at 40,486 and Caravan at 46,915, a nice lead (Chrysler is at 40,811, also beating the Odyssey, though not be quite as much.)

The other big vans — the ProMasters — did well, too. The full sized ProMaster hit a 61% increase, to 2,835; and the City rose by 89% to 1,880. Ford dominates this market to an absurd degree, partly through consistency.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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