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Stock up on Caravans? (Corrected)

by Bill Cawthon on

The Windsor, Ontario plant will be closed several times this year (three weeks from October to November, a week in July, and a week each in August and September). Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette reported that Chrysler told its dealers to stock up on the fast-selling Dodge Grand Caravan before they can’t get any.

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus

For years, FCA execs have referred to the 2018 Caravan as being the final run — at least, on the RT platform.  The 2018 Dodge Caravan is  now slated to finish production in July 2018.  It was originally launched in 2008 and was last refreshed in 2011.

Today, thanks to attractive pricing and incentives, there is only around a 22-day supply, making it the lowest-inventory Dodge (or Jeep or Ram or Chrysler). However, according to Mr. Vellequette, over 60% of Caravans are sold to daily rental fleets; if the company chose to end its sales to rental fleets, demand would drop.

Most minivans are much more expensive, while, after all incentives, the Grand Caravan SE can now be purchased for $22,590. (New Grand Caravan orders are, according to the industry weekly, limited to the SE and the SE Plus.) In contrast, a base Chrysler Pacifica LX lists for $30,090 — $28,090 with all incentives — and it’s a bargain compared with Hondas and Toyotas.

portal - journey crossover replacement

As for the reasons behind the plant downtimes, one can speculate that:

  1. The minivan is still needed to keep sales high, especially with a slowdown foreseen by analysts. The plant could be updated for an update which would bring the Dodge to 2019 standards and customer expectations.
  2. There could be planned updates for the rumored Chrysler crossover (e.g. a mildly Portal-styled version of the Pacifica).
  3. The company could be slowly removing Caravan-specific tooling.
  4. Dodge could be ending rental-fleet sales of the minivans and the scheduled downtimes could be planned inventory controls.

There may be a somewhat restyled Pacifica-based Caravan for Canada, where the Dodge is a hot seller and the Chrysler is not.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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