After growing slightly in 2016, the Minivan segment is back in decline in the first quarter of 2017 with sales down 14.4% to 122,787 units. The segment that sold over 1.2 million units a year in its peak years 1999 and 2000, and still made up over a million sales as recently as 2005 has hovered around half that figure since 2009 and can’t seem to make a decent recovery as 7-seater crossovers are simply more trendy than minivans, which suffer from their soccer-mom image even though they’re much more practical and efficient in real life. Even the all-new Chrysler Pacifica can’t reverse the slide, and if even the new Honda Odyssey, due later this year, can’t stabilize the segment, it may be doomed.
Sales in the Minivan segment grew by 8.1 percent in the 2016, making it the only mainstream segment to gain sales in 2016. With total sales of 553,913 the segment is now within 30,000 units of the quickly-shrinking Subcompact segment, which is quite the comeback for the once-favorite family mover that has suffered greatly in recent years as consumers switch over to crossovers and SUVs. 2017 may be better still as the new Chrysler Pacifica comes into its own and the new Honda Odyssey goes on sale, though it could be that sales of the aging Dodge Grand Caravan start sliding considerably, as that could drag the whole segment down.
Sales in the US Minivan segment grew by 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016, as growth slowed down from the +21 percent in Q2, which was artificially boosted because of the plant shutdown at FCA in the second quarter of 2015, which hampered sales of two of the best selling models in the segment. In Q3 of 2016, five out of the eight models in the segment lost volume, although that needs a sidenote that two of those are discontinued nameplates. One of the most important questions about the minivan segment is whether the all-new Chrysler Pacifica is able to fill the large shoes of its predecessor, and so far the signs are positive. [Read more…]
Sales in the Minivan segment grew by 21 percent in the second quarter of the year – this continuation of the unexpected performance from the first quarter of the year made the segment the only mainstream segment to grow in the second quarter, and the second-faster growing segment over the time period (only the Subcompact SUV segment grew faster). Remarkably, almost every model in the segment contributed to this growth, though ultimately it’s the renewed market popularity of the outgoing FCA twins, Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, that really drove this segments to such fast growth. [Read more…]
Recently I’ve been looking to buy a car capable of carrying more than the usual five passengers, which got me thinking about the way this market has developed over the past few decades, and how it will change in the future. However, rather than spend time retreading the topic that’s been covered thousands of times, namely the history of the minivan and SUVs, I want to focus on the the interesting efforts by carmakers to offer those looking for space something genuinely new and potentially market-changing. In the first of a series of articles, I look at the brief history of the family-haulers, and then dive into the American experience of looking for the middle ground between the unsexy minivan and the gas-guzzling and compromised SUVs.
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.
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.