Sales in the minivan segment grew by 30%, an unexpected performance for a segment that struggled throughout 2015, when sales fell by 8%. Interestingly, the upswing in sales is not thanks to the eagerly-anticipated new Chrysler Pacifica, which has not gone on sale yet, but rather due to the sell-off of its ancient predecessors: the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. It will be interesting to see whether these models will continue gaining sales once the Pacifica hits the market.
Car sales statistics for the minivan segment in the US, updated every quarter.
Sales in the minivan segment fell by 8% compared to 2014, a worse performance that all mainstream segments (3% fall) and considerably worse than passenger cars on average (5% growth). Not all is lost, however, for the once-pioneering segment, as 2016 will see the significant new Chrysler Pacifica go on sale, while the segment-leading Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are also due for a refresh in the next year or so.
Earlier today Chrysler revealed its crucial new model, the Pacifica minivan. “Wait, isn’t this the new Town&Country?” I hear you say? Yes, the name change is pretty surprising, given that the Town & Country and Voyager were pioneers of the segment and enjoy great name-recognition, but Chrysler’s logic is that they’ve become too synonymous with the old-style minivan and were tainted by the lackluster predecessor. Enter the “Pacifica” name, which last served on an upmarket minivan/crossover model, sort of like the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, that Chrysler retired in 2008 after only five years of sales. Such a name change is not unprecedented, but only time will tell if the new name will stick (as it did when Ford replaced the Escort with the Focus) or whether the carmaker will have a change of heart (as Ford had when it replaced the Taurus with the Five Hundred, only to change the name back a few years later). [Read more…]
The Minivan segment continued its decline, with sales down 15% compared to the same period in 2014 – the second largest fall after the Mid-sized segment. This does not necessarily mean that the US has fallen out of love with the segment it invented (no matter what Matra/Renault may claim). Sure, more and more people switch away from boring minivans away to SUVs, but this is also one of the “oldest” segments – full of cars either trying to hold on with a facelift (Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey) or cars on their way out (Chrysler T&C, Dodge Grand Caravan, Mazda5). In fact, once the new generation of the Fiat Chrysler Automotive minivan hits the market I would not bet against it dragging the segment sales up.
Pointing to a market leader is not straightforward in the Minivan segment. While the single best-selling model is the Toyota Sienna, the Chrysler T&C and Dodge Grand Caravan are so similar that oftentimes they are thought of as the same model (and may in fact be replaced by a single model) – if you do that, than their combined sales are still tops at 75,840. Still, with a year-on-year fall in sales of 47% it may not hold onto the lead for long, especially that the Sienna actually grew in sales by 15%, a great performance given that its recent facelift was of the “blink and you’ll miss it” variety.