Future Chrysler Minivans Will Be Upmarket Only

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
future chrysler minivans will be upmarket only

FCA’s decision to kill off the Dodge Caravan doesn’t just mean the end of a storied nameplate. The auto maker will also retreat from a significant niche micro-segment, the affordable minivan.

Speaking to Automotive News, Chrysler brand head Al Gardner said

“The reality is that the [American Value Package] is a very difficult price point to get if you’re going to build the technology, the content, the vehicle, the platform that we want to build…At some point, those customers are wonderful customers for us, and we would love to be able to sell them something, but it may not be a Town & Country, if we look at the segment,” he said. “That price point is really hard to do, and none of the competition can do it either.”

The American Value Package, which starts at $22,390, far undercuts key rivals like the Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. The new pricing structure of the Town & Country will be more closely aligned with every other van in the segment (starting at around $26,000, with the bulk of models in the $30-40,000 range), but it presents a conundrum for Chrysler.

While the American Value Package has its following, the Caravan is extremely popular in Canada, consistently ranking in the top 5 new vehicles sold. While the two vans sell about 130-140,000 units each in the United States, FCA sold 51,000 Grand Caravans in Canada, versus 8900 Town & Country vans in 2014. FCA will have to engineer some kind of replacement for the Canadian market alone, or else risk abandoning substantial volume in the country where the Chrysler van is built.

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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Feb 02, 2015

    Here's what the Canada Value Package Grand Caravan MSRP of 19,995 has included as standard equipment. Hardly a stripped or poverty level vehicle. Powertrain: 1. 3.6L PentastarTM Variable Valve Timing (VVT) V6 engine with 6-speed automatic transmission 2. Touring suspension Exterior Features: 1. 17-inch wheels with wheel covers 2. P225/65R17 BSW Touring tires 3. Body-colour fascia 4. Black/Chrome grille 5. Black, power heated mirrors, manual folding 6. Black door handles and sill appliqué 7. Quad-halogen headlamps 8. Black bodyside moulding 9. Compact spare tire Interior Amenities • Cloth low-back seats • Second-row bench seat with third-row Stow ’n Go® 60/40 split-folding seats with tailgate seating • Uconnect® 130 multimedia centre with four speakers • Three 12-volt auxiliary power outlets • Luxury steering wheel with audio and cruise controls • Air conditioning with dual-zone temperature control • Tilt/telescoping steering column • Power locks • Power front windows, driver one-touch down • Overhead console • Dual glove boxes • Sliding door alert warning • Rearview day/night mirror • Outside temperature display in odometer • Fuel economizer • Tinted windows • Front courtesy/map lamps Safety & Security • Advanced multistage driver and front-passenger air bags • Supplemental front-seat-mounted and rear-seat side air bags, all-row side-curtain air bags • Driver's knee blocker air bag • Enhanced Accident Response System • Electronic Stability Control with All-Speed Traction Control, Trailer Sway Control and Brake Assist • Four-wheel disc antilock brakes • Active front head restraints • Child seat anchor system (LATCH) • Remote keyless entry • Sentry Key® antitheft engine immobilizer • Tire pressure monitoring warning lamp • Engine block heater If Mr. Marchionne actually believes that they can increase the cost of these by $10k grand and sell enough to make them and the new plant profitable, well then I have a car factory in Northern Ireland that he may be interested in buying.

    • See 2 previous
    • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Feb 04, 2015

      @Arthur Dailey No problem with the rules, the paperwork is easy. You just don't get to keep the warranty with a vehicle that's cross-border shopped.

  • Whatnext Whatnext on Feb 02, 2015

    So Chrysler Canada has been spending buckets on TV ads for the value priced Grand Caravan, only to walk away from the market? Bizarre. Considering Marchionne's connections to Canada, his lack of understanding of our market is remarkable.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Feb 02, 2015

    I think there's some logic here. FCA wants to re-cast Dodge as the "performance" brand, a-la Pontiac. However, I can agree that a Dodge performance brand needs a minivan as much as the Pontiac brand needed one. The meat of the market is moving to CUV's, it makes a lot of sense to put the effort into a good CUV. While the re-do of the Journey was substantial, it's bastardized Mitsubishi/Daimler bones really haven't made for a competitive CUV. The re-imagined Durango is no best seller, although I suspect the Jeep Grand Cherokee pricing may have something to do with that. Once the minivan model is dedicated to the Chrysler brand a couple of things come to mind. One, is the model name Voyager, which is what the pre-FCA Euro version Chrysler minivan was called. I think they're using that name for a Lancia variant, but I'm too lazy to Google it right now. A revived Voyager could be your equivalent to the GC AVP package, if FCA decides to offer one. Additionally, what prevents FCA from either offering a ProMaster City with nicer seats and windows or re-skinning a Fiat 500L a-la Jeep Renegade? To be honest, the ProMaster City looks too much like a plumber's van to be convincingly tarted up without a lot of money thrown at it. But a 500L with sliding doors would be tauntingly close to the original Voyager/Caravan in size and spirit. I know I'm not the only one who would like a mini minivan again. I'm not really a fan of Sergio. Most everyone gives the guy credit for vastly improved interiors in a bunch of placeholder cars (which took place before Uncle Sam whored out the remains to Fiat). I think the Dart launch, in particular, was a tone deaf disaster and total misread of the small car market. That car should have crushed it's USDM competitors, and if nothing else taken a huge chunk out of the then-weakened Civic and the then-stale Corolla. The Cherokee launch was an improvement, but it still had issues. But every launch and every new product seems to get better each time. I think the Renegade (and it's cousin the 500L) will make a pretty good splash. FCA has options, but unlike the GM of about five years ago, they're smart enough NOT to put all of their cards on the table. I can't imagine they will walk away from an opportunity to make a buck (or loonie).

  • Chocolatedeath Chocolatedeath on Feb 03, 2015

    Maybe, just maybe Nissan could take advantage of this with there next redo of the Quest.