Dodge in danger of losing #1 minivan title

The moral of a certain African tale is: no matter whether you're the lion or the gazelle, when you get up every morning you better be ready to run. That counts for rams, as well. One of Chrysler LLC's most profitable divisions is getting run down in a historically dominant specialty: minivans. The Dodge Caravan (and Grand Caravan), specifically, is in danger of losing its best selling minivan title to the Honda Odyssey.

The Detroit Free Press reports that year-to-date, Dodge has sold 154,824 Caravans, which is a 21.4-percent decline from last year. Part of that has been explained with the arrival of a new model and the elimination of the cheaper, short wheelbase version. Honda meanwhile has sold 158,139 Odysseys so far this year, which is only a 2.3-percent decline from last year. Honda also has a new version of the Odyseey this year, introduced in August, and has outsold Dodge for the past six months -- which means the new model picked up where the old one left its marker.

Follow the jump for more.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

    • 2008 Honda Odyssey Touring.

They have both used incentives to get metal moving: Honda more than $1,500 per vehicle, Dodge more than $2,700. One should also note that if you added sales of the Chrysler Town & Country to Dodge's total, the combined sales of the two sister vehicles would easily beat out the Odyssey's numbers.

Dodge and its dealers, however, aren't worried. A J.D. Power analyst said that the Caravan is still gathering sales steam, and hasn't had the necessary availability to keep up with demand. Dealers expect the Dodge Journey to replace the lost sales of the short wheelbase Caravan -- although we don't know how that would count toward minivan sales... With 21 days left in the year, 24 years of market leadership is on the line for Dodge. If you have a big red Boost Sales button in there somewhere, Dodge, now is the time to press it.

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