By on June 4, 2010

Minivans, microvans, cargo vans. If it has rolling rear doors, you’ll find it here.

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28 Comments on “May Sales Analysis: Vans...”


  • avatar
    Roundel

    Chrysler still owns this segment hands down.
    On another note, where the hell did they find those Uplanders?

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Interesting that the Econoline outsells the Express/Savanna as the latter is a far more recent and technologically superior vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      The GM vans have a horrible reputation in fleet service. I can personally attest to that. “Technologically superior” is the antithesis of reliable in heavy service, particularly with GM.

      That said, the GM vans are far more comfortable for the driver and front passenger.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      I kinda figured that must be the reason. Shame on GM, they’ve had more than enough time to build reliable vans. The technological superiority I was referring to was the available driver side side doors, the extended wheelbase for the extended version and the rear cargo doors opening 180 degrees. For fleet use I don’t think there’s much call for the AWD. None of what I think is superior in the GM vans should contribute to a lack of reliability. Leave it to GM to build a product with distinct advantages and build it so poorly that it isn’t competitive.

    • 0 avatar

      For nine months in 2001-2002, my job entailed driving a series of 1998-2000 Econolines about 250 miles a day, between Espanola and Albuquerque, NM. Each van (powered by the 4.2L I6) had well over 80,000 on the clock by then, and most were over 100K. The only mechanical issue I suffered was a flat tire.

      Compare that with the two 1999-2000 G-Vans in the fleet, each with around 60,000 miles, that had been pulled off longer-distance routes and relegated to in-town duty, because they had the nasty habit of breaking down.

      There was absolutely nothing high-tech about those vans, yet GM still managed to screw them up.

    • 0 avatar
      chanman

      All of the drivers for the courier company that my workplace deals with for in-town are owner-operators. While many of them use normal cars, and there’s one oddball Ford Transit Compact, the full-size vans are dominated by the GM. Most of the drivers actually prefer the Econolines, but the GM vans are just too cheap to pass up for most of them. There’s only one Sprinter used by a European driver who loves the Merc van – he’s now on his second.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Looks like there’s Chrysler, then everybody else. I had no idea Ford sold so many Econolines.

    Although I just got a used 09 Sedona (nice), my new favorite in the group would be the Ford Transit Connect.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I want to meet the 4 Venture/Outlander buyers. Sorta feel the same about the 12 Quest buyers.

    The Mazda5 is being outsold by the Routan! As discussed in some of the other segment analyses, Mazda needs to step up their marketing or something. I really feel like that vehicle should sell even a little better!

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Wow, Chrysler really came on strong here. I’m not sure why – they have the fourth best product in a category of 4 vehicles — but good for them.

    I was hoping the Transit Connect could get up to the viability mark of 60K units/year, but it looks like they are at only half that. Maybe as they come out with more variants, e.g. taxicabs, they’ll improve.

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      The Transit Connect is more of a niche vehicle, although it’s worth noting it outsells both the GMC Savana and the Sprinter. I am seeing a lot of Transit Connects around me so it is taking off.
      As for Chrysler, well lots of people bought Sebrings so no accounting for taste, or illogic.

    • 0 avatar
      texlovera

      Haven’t priced minivans in a few years, but isn’t the T&C/Caravan still selling for quite a bit less than it’s competitors?? I would say that’s the only reason it sells…

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Yes, Chrysler/Dodge are selling on price right now, but they are still selling. With GM and Ford out of the minivan business, Chrysler is the only game left for that shrinking segment of the population that wants to stick with one of the Detroit 3.
      But that said, the Chrysler van is still a competitor. It is a testament to Chrysler’s past leadership in this segment that with all the cost cutting damage done by Daimler and Cerberus, the vehicle can STILL compete.
      I will also point out that Honda has lost a lot of customers. Cruise the Odyssey forums and you will find a lot of unhappy campers, primarily from transmission problems that are largely an un-solvable design defect. The Chrysler unit has a bad reputation, but its problems have been largely solved for years and can be avoided purely by good maintenance. My 99 T&C with 190K on the original tranny is proof to me.
      Toyota has a new van that seems quite nice. It should be the vehicle to beat right now, once it hits its stride.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @jpcavanaugh: I rented (yes, rented it, I don’t need one full time) a Grand Can (Caravan) a couple of years ago; it was the first time in years I spent in a minivan, and I was unsure of what I would get. I was greatly surprised, it went, stopped and steered WAY better than I imagined it would. Frankly, I’d forgotten how handy those things are.

      If they would make a SWB version, it would be on my short list for sure. As it is, I don’t have the $$’s for a new car right now, and I don’t need a LWB version, but maybe used the price could be right.

    • 0 avatar
      ChevyIIfan

      I frequently rent minivans for my work use and I always head straight for the Caravan/T&C…. why? Yes, the interior feels like they spent about $5 on it…but oh what a miracle Stow and Go is… and how the Japanese still haven’t figured it out. My god it sucks having to remove and lug those 60 lb behemoths (the 2nd row seats) around when you need to haul something. Spend 5 minutes and both the dodge seats are gone away and are right back up later when you need them. It truly is the best thing in minivans.

      A year ago my friend rented a minivan for 5 of us to take a long trip.. and he got a Toyota (rental facility).. we spent a good 45 minutes removing one seat, then trying to put it back in to remove the other. What a nightmare.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Ford needs more marketing on the Transit Connect. It is the answer to so many questions.

  • avatar
    SV

    I always figured the Sedona sold in much higher numbers. Weird.

    Chrysler definitely still dominates the segment, but how much of that is fleet sales? The only minivans you usually see on Hertz lots are Caravans after all. Either way, the supposed major facelift coming this fall will only strengthen their position.

    It’s hard to really judge how the Transit is doing since it doesn’t really have any direct competitors. It’s outselling the Sprinter nearly four-to-one, though, so it’s leading the Eurovan charts at any rate!

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    I’m seeing a lot of swagger, baby!

  • avatar
    IGB

    When I rent, I usually rent a minivan – big family.

    I’ve gotten a Sedona 4/5 times in the last year. Once I got a Sienna. I haven’t seen a ChryCo rental van in a couple of years.

    I usually rent from Dollar, Budget or Hertz, whoever is cheapest at the time.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Make the Ford Transit critter a couple feet longer in the cargo area and it will be in the running for a “alternative living vehicle” for the upcoming growth of homeless folks.

    As used vehicles more affordable to the downwardly mobile as the class war continues its impact the Transit may become a life-saver for the working-poor commoners.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Thanks to the morons of Daimler, Chrysler can no longer offer the old Ram Van/Wagon. Although it was by far the oldest of the 3 big vans, it was a decent vehicle that booked a lot of fleet sales.

    I can attest to the basic goodness of the Ford E-series. I owned a 94 Club Wagon for a long time and loved it. But Nasser eviscerated it with his mid 90s budget ax to the point where the family version was no longer very appealing. Remember, folks, this thing was last seriously reworked for 1992 (and it was a clean sheet of paper for 1975). It is the best of a very neglected segment.

    With Nissan preparing to launch a big van, this segment bears watching.

    And I’m sorry, but as much as I have tried to like it, the Transit connect is just funny looking. What is it with the european vision of what a van should look like? They have been universally awful since the demise of the VW Microbus. Nothing short of $4/gallon gas will jumpstart the Transit Connect.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Why are people buying Routans? Every time I see one I just want to pull the driver over and ask if they know they are driving an overpriced Chrysler with a huge VW logo on it.

    A coworker mention his wife might get one, so I informed him it was just a Chrysler and he had that “oh snap” look of shock. This vehicle and the Dodge Nitro have proven to me that most people do almost NO research into their vehicle purchases.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      It’ll still be the most reliable VW your coworker will ever buy.

    • 0 avatar

      My local Mazda dealer also has a VW franchise. When riding in their Routan courtesy van back to the dealership after having some warranty work done on my 6, I noticed the van a) had 3500 miles on the clock, and b) already had an SES light on.

      When I asked the driver, he said “VW and Chrysler… a match made in the service drive.” He also noted all three dealership courtesy shuttles were overaged, unsold Routans.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I’ll tell you why the Chrysler vans sell so well, they really fulfill a family’s transportation needs. I’m in the middle of my summer vacation. You couldn’t ask for a better family roadtrip vehicle. Tons of room, quiet highway cruising. Mid-20s highway mileage. The Sto-N-Go bins hide the computers and more. It’s significantly cheaper than comparably equipped crossovers. In the garage, the sliding door is a lot more practical with another car parked next to it.

    Yes, most of these features apply to the competitors as well. Most likely the Chrysler sells more because you can get more equipment for the same price. Sto-n-go is a nice feature. Statistics be damned, my 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan has never had a serious problem.

    As to the Routan: I like what VW did with the interior, if it had been available when I got my van, I would have seriously considered it. The middle seats are nicer on the VW, and even though they don’t fold in the floor, you still get the underfloor bins. We never fold our middle seats anyway.

  • avatar
    IGB

    True that. Also, most people have never read an auto magazine, let alone an automotive blog. I have a good friend now ready to buy a new car. He was going to just get a Camry, sight unseen. He doesn’t know what a Malibu or Fusion is, let alone a Mazda 6 is. He might consider an Accord and will base his decision strictly on price.

    Another friend purchased a Grand Caravan, also sight unseen. They needed a new minivan. That was it, it was a minivan. It had the features they liked. They didn’t look at anything else. While they were there, the dealer was giving good deals so they picked up a Jeep Liberty too to replace their aging second car. They wouldn’t know a Subaru if it hit them on the head. They’re very happy with their decision BTW.

    The point is, most people have other priorities. For them, the vehicular appliance in their lives is as important as the brand of air conditioner cooling your house is to you and me.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    I know everyone likes to slag on Chrysler, but we have now owned three T&C’s (never new, I have three small kids who treat the inside of the minivan like a mobile trash bin) and have probably put ~75K miles between the three. With the exception of a dog I bought on ebay sight unseen (but very, very cheap) I have never had to do anything greater than standard service work one would do on any vehicle. Even the parts I had to replace on the Boston-driven ebay T&C were cheap because Chryslers depreciate like a stone and boneyards are full of them.

    The Stow and Go seats are beyond genius — no matter what other vehicle is available, the Chrysler products will always be superior because of this one well thought out addition.

    Too bad the new owners (the UAW and FIAT) don’t understand that this ain’t the sexiest market, but there are a lot of families that will buy one.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I keep seeing what I think are Routans on the road from a distance. But when I get closer I find that they’re new Honda Odyssey’s. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but I think it’s kind of funny.

    Whenever I see Routan, I say out loud “wow, someone actually bought a Routan??” I’ve been saying it a lot more lately since Honda apparently copied the rear end of the Routan.


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