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Thought you'd all like to read this.



The death of the minivan (and Chrysler?)
By Charley Blaine
July 02, 2008


Chrysler exists because Lee Iacocca bet the company on the minivan. Now, thanks to the oil crisis, the minivan looks like it could be on its last legs.

One of the company's two minivan assembly plants will be shut indefinitely on Oct. 31, Chrysler said on Monday. The problem is that families -- the target market for minivans -- have been particularly affected by rising gas and food prices, falling home values and more difficulty in borrowing money.

It's a humiliating development for Chrysler, which spent $1.4 billion on the redesign of its two industry-leading minivans, the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. And then saw sales go, well, nowhere.

"Everything that a family needs is more expensive right now, and so the last thing they're looking at is, 'Do they need to replace their Honda Odyssey?'" said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst for Global Insight, the economic consulting firm.

U.S. minivan sales peaked at 1.37 million in 2000, 17 years after Chrysler introduced them. They've been falling steadily since and are expected to fall below 650,000 this year for the first time since 1986. Sales of the Dodge Caravan were off 35% through May from a year ago and 13% for the Chrysler Town & Country, according to Autodata Corp., which tracks industry sales.

The minivan has been Chrysler's top product for years, and Chrysler has 30% of the minivan market. (The minivan came after Chrysler nearly collapsed in the 1970s and required a U.S. government debt guarantee to stay in business.)

"The future of the segment is up in the air," Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for the Power Information Network, a division of J.D. Power and Associates, told The Associated Press recently.

But Chrysler created some of its own problems. Among the biggest issues: It discontinued its smaller-wheel model because it couldn't put in all the features that were in the redesigned models. That decision now haunts the company because buyers have been put off by the higher prices required to pay for the new minivans.

After stopping production at its minivan plant, in suburban St. Louis, Chrysler will still make minivans at a plant in Windsor, Ont. It is also cutting a shift at a truck assembly plant in Fenton, Mo. In all, about 2,400 of 3,500 workers at the Fenton facilities will be affected.

Chrysler's announcement comes at the end of a dismal quarter for the industry. Sales reports that the automakers will release Tuesday are expected to show that June was the worst month in at least 15 years, with sales down about 17% from a year ago, according to estimates by Edmunds.com.

Chrysler, which makes a higher proportion of trucks than the other major automakers, is believed to have fared the worst, but all three Detroit automakers are projected to report drops of at least 25%.

The combined monthly U.S. market share for Chrysler, Ford Motor (F.N) and General Motors (GM.N) domestic brands is estimated to be 45.4% in June, down from 51.4% in June 2007 but up slightly from the historic low of 45.3% in May, Edmunds says.

There is growing speculation Chrysler might seek to break itself up or file for bankruptcy. The company denies both possibilities. Shares of GM and Ford are down 53.4% and 28% this year, respectively.

Edmunds.com's forecast calls for five of the Big Six automakers to report lower sales than a year ago; only Honda is expected to show an increase. Some analysts predict Toyota will outsell GM in June. However, GM's launch of 72-Hour Zero Percent Financing sale may keep GM in front of Toyota.

The decrease would extend the industry's sales slump to eight straight months, the longest tumble in seven years. Gasoline prices in June topped $4 a gallon ($1.06 a litre) for the first time and U.S. consumer confidence hit a 16-year low, prompting more Americans to postpone purchases of new vehicles.

Those who did buy were drawn to cars and "crossover" wagons that blend car and truck features, Bloomberg News said. On June 1, the industry had the lowest supply of cars for that date in at least 17 years, according to trade publication Automotive News.

Inventories of compact cars and hybrids are "going down at a rate we've never really seen before, and automakers are caught a bit unprepared," Jesse Toprak, an Edmunds.com analyst told Bloomberg. "It might take several years to fully meet the consumers' demands."


The death of the minivan (and Chrysler?) - Investing Insight - Sympatico / MSN Finance
 

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Who to believe? The article below says opposite: "Chrysler Canada, which has more focus on passenger cars than trucks". It is probably only Canadian market.

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales were lower in June with another sharp skid at General Motors of Canada as rising gas prices weighed on demand for SUVs and light trucks, according to company figures released on Wednesday.

But Toyota Canada Inc. bucked the overall drop in sales and gobbled up more market share as consumers snapped up its fleet of fuel-friendly vehicles.

Canadian auto sales fell 5.7 percent year-on-year to 159,500 vehicles in June after a 0.5 percent drop in May, a sharp turnaround from the double-digit gains recorded in January and February.

"A soft month from last year but then last year was the best June on record so it was going to be very difficult to eclipse," Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consulting Inc, wrote in a note. "The market is slowing though and we don't expect the strong sales from the early months to continue."

Sales at GM Canada, the country's biggest automaker, slid 23.8 percent in June to 32,355 vehicles from 42,466 in the same month last year.

GM Canada, which was coming off a 20 percent drop in sales in May, said its truck sales, which include sales of SUVs and minivans, skidded 35.3 percent to 14,243, while its car sales fell 11.5 percent to 18,122.

Ford Motor Co. of Canada said it sold 22,001 vehicles in June, down 13.7 percent from 25,485 a year earlier. Truck sales decreased 17.7 percent, while car sales fell 2.9 percent.

Chrysler Canada, which has more focus on passenger cars than trucks, bucked the trend set by its Big Three Detroit peers with a 1 percent gain in sales to 22,194 vehicles in June for its 23rd straight month of gains.

Toyota said it set a June sales record as it moved 22,428 units off its lots, a gain of 8.8 percent from a year earlier.

The automaker said sales at its Toyota division increased 8 percent to 20,871, while its luxury Lexus division sold 1,557 vehicles for a gain of 22 percent.

Honda Canada Inc. , which had a monthly sales record in May, said it sold 16,518 units in June, a 2 percent slide from the same month in 2007.

The automaker said sales at its Honda division decreased 1 percent to 14,918 units, while sales in its Acura division fell 15 percent to 1,600 units.
 

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Damn, I just bought a 08 Town & Country for my wife. That kind of Sucks.
what difference does it make? it is good. you are supportng economy. :) if you need a car you need a car. prices are not going to fall. they are leaving for longer vacation this month and cutting production to prevent inventory build ups immediately.
 

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what difference does it make? it is good. you are supportng economy. :) if you need a car you need a car. prices are not going to fall. they are leaving for longer vacation this month and cutting production to prevent inventory build ups immediately.
Doesn't matter....unless Chrysler folds. Then what?
I have an 07 C with lifetime warranty. If Chrysler goes belly up, my local dealer will go under. Where will I have my car fixed (if the warranty is still good, that is)?
I knew I took a chance buying a Chrysler, but I figured it would be the last chance to get an affordable American V8 sedan, ever (didn't want a Mercury). I just didn't expect oil to hit 140 overnight. Now the only vehicles Chrysler made money on are tanking in sales. Their small vehicles are sh1t. Have you checked out the Avenger? Good god. I though I was in a third world country car. What a POS.
Either way. US car industry is in dire straights and we all know it. I just hope things will turn. $2 gas is no more. Let's just hope it stays under $5.
 

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i like suv's better than minivans. at least i can climb mountain passes and go camping in an suv. minivans pretty much set the standard for family transportation for many years. hopefully chrysler doesnt declare bankruptcy. that will just be disasterous for everyone. maybe everyone will get a free 300 just to push out stock :)
 

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I also bought a T&C back in April. It is the first new vehicle, out of about 38, that I can honestly say I have no problems or complaints. Traded a fully loaded GC. The dealer still has it on their lot only asking $1400 more than they gave me, and this Jeep only had 28000 miles and was in pristine showroom condition.

All mfgs.are having serious problems selling the SUV's.
 

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maybe it because the new minivan looks like an updated version of the Chevy Astro Van



Versus


 

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There is nothing wrong with the minivan nor is it going to go away anytime within the next decade or more.

This is just an article writer making up a story out of nothing to compliment the gas price talks.

All car sales are down other than subcompacts.:twak:
 

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Tell me, is there any vehicle that is better value than a Dodge Caravan currently going for about $20,000 for a basic model? Not very exciting but ever so practical. A small car is okay for commuting to work but anyone with a family is quickly going to find the limitations of their little $hitbox. There is a swing to more fuel efficient vehicles but I think things will swing back to sensibility once people realize that their savings are not that great and the little car just doesn't fit their lifestyle. My sister got on the "green" bandwagon and bought a Prius a few years ago. She hasn't found the fuel savings worth the quirkiness of the vehicle. She recently got rear-ended and the car is a write off. The next car will not be a hybrid or even a small car. After being hit like that, you learn to value a little more mass in your vehicle. My recommendation, a Dodge Caravan.
 

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The green station wagon.. or suv? XD

SUVs are pretty damn played out here in north CA, just like the minivans. Personally I find it ridiculous that people need a mobile apartment on wheels to take their "twins" out of the house.

Ya know how my parents did it? I sat between my 2 older brothers in the back of our Ford Tempo. When we were teens, it was the back of a Mercury Mystique. XD

The bitch about SUVs is if you sit in the 3rd row you're "trapped" behind the morons in the 2nd row that almost never remember to fold the seat down for you. Vans are better, but the huge, usually heavy doors are ridiculous.

I think of SUVs/vans like those women who have to carry a huge ass purse everywhere they go. (Not trying to be sexist, the man equivalent is the guy that uses a jacked up F350 for every excuse he can think of and has a full tool chest for stuff they'll never really need in their garage)..

Some people like to handle demands in excess, and be prepared for anything.

Then again, I'm an unreasonable car person, I pick cars because I like them, not because they make sense, and I suppose that's why SUVs sell, but I don't really see the attraction in either A. A big bubble on wheels, or B. A big box on wheels. They all look like overinflated station wagons on a lift kit anyway.

Besides, just about everyone I've seen driving an SUV looked kinda funny driving it, same with minivans - either the driver is in the bear-position, or looks like a praying mantis holding onto dear life on that steering wheel.
 

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There is nothing wrong with the minivan nor is it going to go away anytime within the next decade or more.

This is just an article writer making up a story out of nothing to compliment the gas price talks.

All car sales are down other than subcompacts.:twak:
+++


I think Chrysler #1 in sales is the Dodge Caravan and #2 still is the Dodge Ram. There just both down in sales right now, just like the rest of them. Everything is in the $pittier.

I don't see the minivan going anywhere. They sell too many. The article was just mainly about the price of gas.
 

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I see the crossover vehicles knocking minivans off the market soon
I would not bet on this. It is just a trend that all automakers went into this direction now. Chrysler has been offering Pacifica for 5 years now. It is a good car, crossover, but somehow it did not catch up. It could be that it was priced as entry luxury and most folks who wanted something like it, could not buy, and people with money would spend it on some better status of luxury.

If I was in the market in CUV segment I would want something like Magnum. Journey looks nice, but not my thing. That is why I am saying it was a mistake to stop making Magnums.
 

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Remember that not far as February they had very robust sales in minivans, trucks and everything. Then price of oil just shot up. People who are shopping for new cars are definitely in shock from gas price as look for any subcompact they can find. This has nothing to do with vehicle design or quality being bad. It is just that these bigger trucks used to be more profitable. Toyota and Honda truck sales also slumped the same way as for big 3. T & H just did not manage to expand into this market much even though they tried. It turned a blessing for them now. They have all these subcompacts and big 3 do not have them enough now.
 

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give it time, things will even out IMO

my daily driver is a lifted SUV on mud tires. i've learned i'm gonna spend $100 a week or alittle more. not a biggie i've just worked alittle harder and made alittle extra $$ on the side. i havent changed much at all in terms of lifestyle, driving style..ect

the minivan is a great way for familys..they get pretty good milage and have room. i know i could never use a car for a daily driver due to what i need. i need to be able to haul 5 people with the back full of crap..and be able to go just about anywhere. i suppose i could get by with a van..but i'd never be cought dead in one haha

give it some time, prices and sales will even themselves out...no reason to make a rash choice now and regret it later. thus is why i'm not running to sell my truck and buy alittle car.

i got offtopic sorry :(
 
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