Chrysler plans to idle minivan plant in St. Louis

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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