By on April 14, 2015

2015 Toyota Sienna SEMinivans accounted for only 2.7% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle volume in March 2015, a sharp drop from the 3.5% achieved by the category one year earlier.

First-quarter sales of minivans in 2015 were down 12%, and the segment’s share of the industry’s new vehicle volume tumbled to 2.8% from 3.4% in the first-quarter of 2014, a period in which total minivan volume had risen 5%, year-over-year.

Two key factors are at play in the minivan segment’s U.S. decline in early 2015. Primarily, a retooling of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Windsor, Ontario, is disrupting the sale of the two vans that led the category at this time a year ago and throughout the 2014 calendar year.

Second, the discontinuation of the Mazda 5 spells the end of America’s true, one-vehicle “mini”-van category. 5 sales were basically cut in half in the month of March, a drop of nearly 1000 units.

Minivan
March
2015
March
2014
%
Change
2015 YTD
2014 YTD
%
Change
Chrysler Town & Country
5,489 13,242 -58.5% 19,874 28,994 -31.5%
Dodge Grand Caravan
5,960 14,165 -57.9% 16,918 32,025 -47.2%
Honda Odyssey
11,142 11,008 1.2% 27,088 27,832 -2.7%
Kia Sedona
3,638 641 468% 7,670 1,539 398%
Mazda 5
1,063 2,016 -47.3% 4,003 4,988 -19.7%
Nissan Quest
905 1,559 -42.0% 2,289 3,319 -31.0%
Toyota Sienna
12,855 11,027 16.6% 32,723 26,087 25.4%
Volkswagen Routan
209 -100% 797 -100%
Total
41,052
53,867 -23.8%  110,565 125,581 -12.0%

 The signs of life in the industry are readily observable. Kia’s launch of the third-generation Sedona resulted in a sales spike for the category’s newest entrant, but even with a 468% improvement in March, for example, the Sedona was only the fifth-ranked nameplate in a seven-nameplate (and shrinking) category. Nevertheless, it’s a well-received product, and if the category doesn’t completely dry up and disappear – which it won’t – Kia is setting the stage for a gradual ascent. For now, the Sedona’s 8.9% March market share and 6.9% first-quarter share place the Kia well back of the segment leaders.

The Toyota Sienna’s best-selling status required no asterisks in March. Not only did the Sienna outsell the individual FCA nameplates, Grand Caravan and Town & Country, but it outsold the pair as a combined duo. Sienna sales are up 25% in 2015, a refreshed year for the third-generation Sienna, and March volume jumped 17% to 12,855 units, 1406 better than the Chrysler/Dodge tandem managed. The Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in each of the four months leading up to March, as well.

Honda Odyssey sales have declined slightly in early 2015 but perked up marginally in the month of March, specifically. 2014 ended with a 5% Odyssey decline and a three-year low in terms of U.S. volume. (Sienna sales rose to a seven-year high in 2014.)

Regardless, both the Sienna and Odyssey have an opportunity to grab greater sales in 2015, at least with potential Chrysler/Dodge buyers who weren’t looking for the absolute least expensive minivan in America.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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21 Comments on “U.S. Minivan Sales – March 2015 YTD – Cain’s Segments...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    I’m guessing that the majority of people with enough children to require one of these can’t climb up to Toyota, Honda or (now) Kia price levels. Any perturbation in Grand Caravan value-package sales will pretty much tell the tale for the entire segment, as it apparently is here.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The Dodge Caravan in its entirety is dead according to a Fiat presentation I saw last week. I suspect the model to replace the Journey will try to fill that place.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      With the Durango retiring to make way for the Wagoneer, is Dodge considering a full-size CUV (Traverse/Explorer size)? Or will the Journey replacement be the only Dodge crossover?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      The conflicting stuff we hear coming out of FCA gets confusing.

      http://blogs.windsorstar.com/business/death-of-dodge-grand-caravan-minivan-overblown-says-bigland

      http://www.autonews.com/article/20150131/OEM/302029949/fiat-chrysler-to-abandon-sub-$25000-minivans

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        The plans I saw last week showed a Journey/D-CUV being launched in 2016, the Grand Caravan ending in 2016, a Dodge B Sedan/hatch being launched in 2018 and the Grand Wagoneer launching in 2018.

        While not explicitly mentioned, it seems that the current plan is to let the current Durango die with the launch of the Wagoneer. If a replacement is planned, the timing is beyond 2018.

        (The presentation was part of a $3 billion debt issuance by FCA, so I would trust this much more than press reports. I don’t think Sergio wants to go to jail for securities fraud.)

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          What you saw is the same 5 year plan presentation shown a year ago. Product plans are often altered on the fly without much fear of going to jail.

          • 0 avatar
            deanst

            Obviously plans change, and this one updated last year’s 5-year plan – it certainly was not the same. For example – last year showed a 2017 durango refresh – that is gone. A new charger/challenger in 2018 is gone.

            While everyone knows that Sergio’s ego often conflicts with reality, plans presented to investors have more weight than media posturing.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Investor presentations contain the same disclaimers.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    I left for Asia for 10 years and came back in 2012 and was quite surprised at the high price of the Odyssey and Sienna. I remember when a minivan was in the similar price bracket as a mid-size family sedan. Aside from shifting taste, I can imagine the high price playing a small role in the sales decline. Personally, the size and high price were big turn off for me even though I’m a huge fan of the minivan design, so I ended up buying the 2013 Mazda5 (two young kids with occasional grandma). The only two complaints are i) wind noise from thin windshield for a family vehicle and ii) lack of Skyactiv engine to improve fuel economy for practicality-minded buyers.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    I’m biased because I own a 2006 Sienna, but those are impressive numbers for the Sienna. I did a quick cars.com search and found the following interesting: within 150 miles of eastern Kentucky (41169), I found 469 Siennas with the lowest starting price of approximately $26K. I found 909 Grand Caravans with the lowest starting price of approximately $18.5K. Lastly, I found 869 Odysseys with lowest starting price of $27k.

    That’s a pretty significant price difference between the Dodge and Toyota. Yet, the Sienna is still the predominant van seen around here, followed by the Odyssey. Some ancedotal, non-scientific evidence to back up the article regarding those looking for a van are not necessarily looking for the cheapest one.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I agree on the price problem. I’m not sure if there is a lot of pork in that price or if it’s just what these things cost but it put me right the hell off one.
    I would imagine that I’m a perfect candidate for one, three kids, family visiting often, kids friends, perpetual home projects, but I just can’t buy one. I mean, nobody really wants to drive one, you get them because they’re extremely practical in terms of function. However, they cease to be practical when a well-appointed model reaches towards $40k! I’m not poor, but that payment would certainly hurt and for all that pain, you’re still driving a juicebox with wheels. Combined with the fact that the Quest and the GC/T&C had poor small overlap crash test results, you’re left with Honda and Toyota (I guess Kia too) and none come cheap. So not only are there very few choices, you have to pay dearly to lose your minivan in a sea of similar minivans anytime you go someplace (go to a school and count the black Odysseys).
    No thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I had to laugh about your comment on the large number of black Odysseys at your kid’s school. I live between an elementary and a middle school, you can’t keep up with how many silver or gray Odys go up and down my street (Only to be outnumbered by SUVs).

      In my part of SW lower Michigan, the Ody is the minivan of choice for a certain demographic. The Grand Caravan seems to mop up the rest.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I remember when middle school and most elementary school kids walked to and from school. The only ride middle school kids got was a transit bus whose route went by the school. I don’t have to wonder how those kids will fare when adults: I saw a teenager in a gated community walking her dog while riding in a golf cart.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Got me a great deal on a used 2011 T&C a month ago. After driving the Chrysler, Toyota, and Hondas back to back, the T&C really seemed like the best of the bunch. My wife and I both liked it the best by far compared to the others. The Honda was way too Honda like if you know what I mean, and the Toyota was decent but it seemed overpriced and we didnt think the interior was as nice.

  • avatar

    At first, I didn’t understand why the Odyssey and Sienna cost thousands more than a Town and Country, but now I understand…and I think the price-premium is worth it. They’re just much better vehicles. I’m not sure what to make of the Sedona yet. I’m sure it’s chock full of features, but something tells me that Kia will have missed the mark on the suspension and ergonomics, because that’s how it always goes.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Damn, its no where near what Id have imagined. My first choice would be the Honda, the second and only other acceptable choice in my view is the Nissan Quest. Even the Mazda 5 outsold it, and its doa (I actually thought sales of it in the US had already stopped awhile ago).

    I like the Honda because its good, and I like the Quest’s avant-grade JDM styling and the fact itll be rare one day when Nissan finally pulls the plug (doesnt look like thatll be a long wait, and I bet there will be no replacement in the US lineup, what few who wanted one will be pushed into the Pathfinder). I really wouldnt have any of the others.

    Im curious why the Ford Transit Connect Wagon isnt included, as with the passenger versions of the Shi I mean City Express, Promaster City, NV, etc. Do they not give seperate sales figures for passenger versions? I cant believe one could argue the Mazda5 is/was a minivan but these arent.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    I had to buy a minivan because the old one finally died. Another reason is because my wife still prefers them. We have a bunch of elementary school age kids and it is a practical design. I’m glad she drives one because I would rather drive about anything else than a minivan. Lastly, they were giving away T&C minivans with zero percent financing for seven years. There was nothing else available new that could do what it did and do it so affordably.

    So it was an easy decision.

    Consequently, here in the central US, the T&C is everywhere where families with multiple children under the age of ten congregate. You go to a school function and there are literally dozens of them in the parking lots. This confuses our littlest kids who keep thinking they see Mommy everywhere I take them. The older ones have figured out that they need to look for our license plates, or a closer look at the color, or think of Mommy’s schedule. Right now, they all get excited seeing another black T&C.

    I’ve blogged over the years about minivans here at TTAC and old timers here know I’m no fan of them. I’m still not. The idea of dropping $40,000 for a diaper bag on wheels is really stupid. The extra $10,000 sticker price between the T&C and the Odyssey cannot be justified. If one is looking at these machines from a practical basis for family use, buying the Odyssey or Sienna is like wiping a toddler’s butt with $20 dollar bills.

    Boomers are getting older and discovering that they can no longer pop into a Corolla as easily as they once did. So, it seems that the retirees have turned to minivans as their vehicles of choice. Additionally, these folks discovered that their children gave birth to more children than they had, so the minivan isn’t just comfy for old farts to tool around in, they are practical for tooling around in with farting grandkids. Its a win-win.

    Yet, even with its practicality, the minivan still has the heart of a Happy Meal. It does the trick, but certainly isn’t satisfying as a ride. I’m not surprised at its continuing slide in the market, yet as a family hauler, they can be an amazing value which is hard to beat.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Nobody could (or should) blame you for making the right choice fot your family.

      Im a single man, but Ive owned a few minivans. They were all Ford Aerostars with one exception being a 97 Windstar 3.0L. When I drove my last Aerostar to visit some friends (more like family) above Seattle, my friend’s baby moma (what other term should I use? Lol) was at first intimidated by my Aerostar’s taller stance and more truck-like feeling (when driving or riding) compared to her 1999 (?) Grand Caravan. My Aerostar had 16″ Explorer XLS alloys, so it was even higher than it was stock (I didnt even try stock Explorer tires, went with lower profile).

      Then, she got so she liked it. So much so that she sold the Dodge and bought a first gen Explorer (claimed there were no decent Aerostars in her price range, which I doubt because I see plenty on craigslist in much better shape than mine for cheap). She liked that so much, she traded up for a Suburban (the Explorer was very high mileage, I think if theyd bought a nicer/newer/better one to begin with, there would be no Suburban). Once she broke out of the Caravan’s mold, she liked it.

      I decided not to go with a fourth Aerostar when my 96 started having issues (closing in on 230k miles, not exactly the most well kept vehicle before I got it). I went with a one-year-older Taurus sedan instead and Im very happy with it. I do see a place for minivans, but it does not surprise me that the crossover started eating their lunches. Id have a Ford Flex over any minivan, but that is a polorizing vehicle. Its not that its just not a minivan, its more that I do like its style and it ticks off quite a few of the minivan’s boxes.


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