May Mauls Moribund Minivan Market

John Horner
by John Horner
may mauls moribund minivan market
The AP reports that U.S. minivan sales are down a pickup-truck like 20 percent so far this year, against an overall light vehicle market drop of eight percent. Ford has already given up on minivans; they scuttled the Freestar in 2006. GM is nearly done as well; deep-sixing the Ten Worst-winning Chevy Uplander. Some would-be minivan buyers are moving to "crossovers" and others are downsizing more radically. Some market watchers see a minivan renaissance ahead, as Generation Y starts sharing both X and Y chromosomes and Baby Boomers look to minivans to transport their grandchildren (huh?). Global Insight predicts U.S. minivan sales will settle in at around 650,000 through 2012, when they could jump back up to 700k as the market improves. Maybe. Global ignores the fickle nature of fashion-oriented buyers; there's a solid history of generational antipathy, as car buyers reject their parents' vehicles. Still, seven-passenger SUVs, mpg and gas prices…
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  • Theodore Theodore on Jun 09, 2008

    I don't understand all the flak the Windstar is catching. Maybe my family just got lucky, but we bought a new '96 Windstar as a year-old leftover. It's been used and abused beyond 200,000 miles by now and the only major repair has been to the air suspension in the rear. It's not going to win any prizes in the fun-to-drive category, but it's been all over two countries in all kinds of weather without giving any trouble - a worthy successor to the station wagons it replaced as the family hauler.

  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on Jun 09, 2008

    My last minivan was a '92 Plymouth Voyager. Four cylinder, 5-speed stick. Got around 22mpg in town, close to 30 on the highway. Bring those back, and I'm first in line.

  • Jjdaddyo Jjdaddyo on Jun 09, 2008

    I think the cratering of minvan sales has less to do with gas prices/mileage than with the economic niche that minivan drivers inhabit. If you have a minivan, you usually have kids and all the expenses that go with them. If this is the case, you are being squeezed everywhere. Interest rates up, food costs up, everything else that contains oil going up (anything with plastic, for instance), and the overall US employment picture looking gloomy, and don't even get me started on health care costs for a family. The auto companies have made a lot of hay in the last ten years from people buying new cars on a 2-3-4 year (or less) cycle. If people decide that getting a new car every 5-6-7 years is good enough (with all the other bills they have to pay), then car makers are in for a DECADE of pain.

  • Storminvormin Storminvormin on Jun 09, 2008

    It's always been interesting to me how many grandparents eschew a more efficient car for a minivan to haul gradkids that they see once or twice a month. Maybe my attitude will change when I become a grandpa but as it stands my thoughts are "We're a free babysitting service. Drive your own damn kids everywhere". Maybe they're just easier to get in and out of.