As the threat of a strike at Chrysler’s Windsor plant looms, it’s worth examining just how much of an iron grip the Pentastar minivans have on the market.
Tim Cain, TTAC’s favorite third-party sales guru, has the latest numbers for American minivan sales, and the Dodge Grand Caravan is firmly in the lead this year, with 94,639 units sold. While the Honda Odyssey is firmly in second place (86,459), holding a nearly 10,000 unit lead over the fourth place Chrysler Town & Country, the combined sales figures for the two Chrysler vans have them outselling the Odyssey by an almost 2:1 margin. No wonder Sergio Marchionne is so eager to consolidate Chrysler’s minivan offerings under a single umbrella.
According to Cain, 45 percent of minivans sold in America this year have been one of the two Chrysler vans. In Canada, that number is even higher; last year saw the Grand Caravan alone account for 56.5 percent of the minivan market. In 2012, the Grand Caravan is ranked 4th in YTD sales up North. Only the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram and Honda Civic are outselling it.
Cain cites the Canada Value Package and the American Value Package, which sells for $19,995 in both countries, as a key factor in helping drive sales of the Caravan. The Grand Caravan is an even more attractive proposition in Canada, where higher fuel prices make larger SUVs a less attractive proposition. The Grand Caravan still has plenty of room for kids and their hockey bags (hold your laughter, please, this is a serious issue for a lot of consumers in Canada) without offering the fuel economy penalties that come with a large SUV or crossover. While the CVP is undoubtedly a loss leader for Chrysler, it helps get customers into the showroom, and as Cain notes
“Family van buyers don’t want to pay $10K more for a similarly equipped Sienna or Odyssey, even if they like it more.”
Now put that in the context of a CAW strike; if the Bramalea plant building the LX cars went down, life would go on. But if Windsor stopped cranking out GCs and T&Cs, there might be a problem. As of September 1st, there was a 27 day supply of Grand Caravans and a 49 day supply of Town & Countrys. They’re not exactly stacking them high and selling them cheap like General Motors is forced to do with their full-size pickups.