• Jun 30, 2008
Click above high-res gallery of the 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT

Now that General Motors and Ford have completely abandoned the minivan market for good, the American originator of the species faces only Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Kia and soon Volkswagen as manufacturers that also offer competitive choices. Perhaps you'd think that Chrysler would be benefiting as the only domestic automaker currently playing in the segment, but it seems that sales are down this year by 13 percent for the Chrysler Town and Country while the Dodge Grand Caravan is down an alarming 35 percent. High gas prices are the obvious reason why the minivan market is seeing such a harsh downward trend, and likely the culprit behind Chrysler's impending move to idle its St. Louis South minivan plant as early as December, which would leave some 1,500 employees jobless.

Utility vehicles have been the biggest gas-price casualties, and slow sales are said to be forcing the Jefferson Avenue assembly plant in Detroit where the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander are assembled and the Toledo, Ohio North assembly plant which builds the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro into extended shut-downs, as well.


[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 52 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Of course, the van thing is on the wane, but not dead.

      The new Chrysler and Dodge models have styling that says, "Here is a boring vehicle, devoid of flare, for you boring people who want them -- now buy it, you clones!" The Dodge is probably off more, because it used to look a little touch sporty, and is now just dull.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Really, have you looked at the new Grand Caravan? They took a car that was not that bad to look at and turned it into a box on wheels.

      Not sure what they were thinking. If people wanted a boxtruck, they would buy one. They should start by undoing the the design of this aztek wanabe...

        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree with that. Making a good looking minivan into a box and charging more for it? Not improving naything but making the design worse? What were they thinking? Of course sales would tank. All to satisfy a design department with a few wild hairs up their ass.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree they squared off the van... but comparing it to the fu-gly Aztek? Come on, the Pontiac had nasty cladding ,an ugly cartoon face, & a high faced rear end that looked like a city garbage truck.
      • 6 Years Ago
      BEING A OWNER OF A GRAND CARAVAN AND WITNESSING 2 BREAKING DOWN IN ONE DAY I WOULD
      SAY THAT THE SALES SLUMP IS MOSTLY DUE TO QUALITY. I AM A MOPAR ENTHUSIAST WITH A COLLECTION OF 3 MUSCLE CARS, 69 CHARGER,70 SUPER BEE, 71 GTX. I AM AS LOYAL AS THEY COME HOWEVER THE TREATMENT I HAVE RECEIVED WITH THE SERVICE AND CUSTOMER RELATIONS THE ONLY FUTURE MOPARS I WILL EVER BUY WILL BE FROM THE PAST 68 TO 71 . PS PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I LOVE THE NEW PRODUCTS BUT CAN TRUST THEM WITH A FAMILY ON BOARD HEADING OUT ON THE ROAD.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Just like everything else Chrysler got carried away and made the van bigger. Bigger equals less MPG. I suggest they go backward, shrink it down with a 4 banger and CVT. My wife loves these and the kids are gone. MPG isn't there to get another though. honda however has a small van on the horizon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bill: A smaller Caravan exists... The Dodge Journey. Both Caravan & the Journey are too porky for a 4 banger.

        Thank all the companies marketing the 5-Star crash rating & adding numerous electronic gizmos for increased weight
      • 6 Years Ago
      Right now, low price and high fuel economy is the only thing selling new cars. The US is in a recession and combined with energy prices going up with no end in sight people are not buying much. There is still a market for minivans but it is much smaller than it used to be.

      Chrysler really screwed up the styling this time around IMO. Before it had some style and now it looks like toaster. They really need to redesign it quickly to give it some appeal. The VW version looks good and it is based off the same platform. Besides a restyle maybe they could come out with a cheaper version with a 4 cylinder and a manual transmission again. Maybe a panel version could be made like they had back in the 80's. A panel workvan would be cheaper than a truck and get better fuel economy. My last thought would be to introduce a hybrid minivan. The space where the stow n go bins are would be ideal for batteries.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I had read an article in the Detroit Free Press a few days ago about the rather pronounced decline of the minivan market.
      Seems like about 1/3 of it has gone away over the last couple of years.
      Neither article talked much about market shares of the Chrysler minivan twins , Honda, and Toyota, the three companies who sell most of them.
      I don't think the Germans helped the styling of these vehicles, but they aren't ugly like some of the cars. You can't really mess up a shoe box on wheels.
      The arrogant Germans thought because you can sell German cars that look like German cars, then you can sell lots of American cars in the US that look like German cars.
      I also think they guessed wrong dropping the cheaper short wheel base version. Might have seen more interest in this market. Since they don't have it, they can't try to see if more of them will sell.
      The Big Three got so drunk on the profits they used to make on their big trucks, SUV's, and in Chrysler's case the minivans-- they pretty much conceded the small and medium car market to Honda and Toyota.

      The Big Three must have at least a few people who were there in the 70's when this happened before, but it doesn't appear they get listened to.
      • 6 Years Ago
      We rented a Grand Caravan a few months ago.

      When you unfold the third row seat, and you can still see the impression of the seatbelt retainer 45 minutes later in the foam, and it feels like sitting on a board....

      And you're going to stuff your kids in that for an hour while you drive around? They get antsy enough without exposing them to seating torture.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The numbers could also be down because the T&C and Caravan are ugly boxes.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ya, pretty ugly front end styling -- they need to redo it. And drop that stupid cross-hatch grille theme. I'm tired of it and don't think it does anything for the styling.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It might also be that the Caravan has become very unattractive compared to the others. It is simply ugly....
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is volkswagen really a competitor?
      its the same platform
        • 6 Years Ago
        No Gary... Not if VW is PAYING Chrysler to make the van for them. If Burger King has McDonald's prep a line of hamburgers, who makes the most $$$. McDonald's.

        Izuzu was very happy to have Honda pay them for the original Passport SUV. Obviously Honda made more profit designing/ building their own Passport.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think you will find the most profit is in selling cars not producing them for other manufacturers
        • 6 Years Ago
        its a competitor if the price tag goes into VW's pocket over Chrysler. Just because burger king and macca's both sell meat inside a bun doent make them friends.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You are correct... The VW is the same van with a V-Dub front & rear clip. Autoblog... how is that a "competitor" of Chrysler in mimi van market?
      • 6 Years Ago
      The problem Chrysler ran into was that when the redesign occurred from the NS vans to the RS vans in 2001 I believe, was that everyone said "you didn't change anything, it still looks like the old van". So this time around they went totally in the other direction to the toaster on wheels you have today.

      Plus it didn't help any that the entire exterior designs on just about everything fell into the 300 boxey craze. Just because one car succeeds doesn't mean you have to restyle everything in the same theme.
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