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Future of the Caravan: Sergio semi-confirms the rumors

by Robert S. Miller on

When questioned about the future of the Dodge Grand Caravan at the Windsor Assembly Plant at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne had an interesting answer:

The replacement of the Caravan will be a Caravan-like vehicle. I need another minivan. It’s going to be in line with the Pacifica architecture.

It has been long said that after the end of Grand Caravan production in 2019, a full-size crossover based on the Pacifica would come to market, followed up with another minivan-like vehicle. This would be a production version of the Chrysler Portal concept shown last year.

The Portal was based on the Pacifica architecture, but is only around  ¾ the size of the Pacifica minivan. Chrysler was doing anything at the time to avoid calling it a minivan, since it was to be shown as a vehicle for millennials.

During his annual press conference at NAIAS last year, Marchionne stated that Windsor would be a “natural place” to build the Portal. In that same press conference, when asked about a Pacifica based crossover, he smiled and said, “I know Kuniskis [the head of passenger-car brands] wants one.”

A production Portal may solve FCA US’ problem with having to kill of the successful but aging Dodge Grand Caravan. It would be a mini-minivan, smaller than the big Pacifica, with minivan-like conveniences at an affordable price. Following the direction of the concept, Chrysler could offer a hybrid model (like the Pacifica PHEV), allowing the idea of Portal to continue with its advanced technologies, while filling in a gap in the Chrysler brand lineup.

Since Dodge has taken the route of being the performance arm of the FCA US portfolio, it would not fit into the Dodge brand portfolio, so Chrysler — FCA US’ “mainstream brand” — would sell it.

Robert Miller is a long-time Allpar contributor, Mopar enthusiast, and automotive photographer.

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