U.S. Minivan Sales – March 2015 YTD – Cain's Segments

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
u s minivan sales march 2015 ytd cain s segments

Minivans 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.

MinivanMarch2015March2014% Change2015 YTD2014 YTD% ChangeChrysler Town & Country5,48913,242-58.5%19,87428,994-31.5%Dodge Grand Caravan5,96014,165-57.9%16,91832,025-47.2%Honda Odyssey11,14211,0081.2%27,08827,832-2.7%Kia Sedona3,638641468%7,6701,539398%Mazda 51,0632,016-47.3%4,0034,988-19.7%Nissan Quest9051,559-42.0%2,2893,319-31.0%Toyota Sienna12,85511,02716.6%32,72326,08725.4%Volkswagen Routan—209-100%—797-100%—— —————Total41,05253,867-23.8% 110,565125,581-12.0%

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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  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Apr 14, 2015

    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.

  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Apr 16, 2015

    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.

    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Apr 16, 2015

      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.