By on September 15, 2016

2017 minivans Quest Sedona Caravan Pacifica Odyssey SiennaA long ways from the 1.1 million minivans sold in 2005, U.S. sales of sliding-door people carriers are on track to rise to a nine-year high of more than 600,000 units in calendar year 2016.

Through the first eight months of 2016, year-over-year minivan volume is up 19 percent in the United States, though an industry-wide slowdown stalled the minivan sector’s expansion in August.

More than a year after a plant shutdown in Windsor, Ontario, enabled retooling for a new generation of Chrysler MPV product — and severely cut into fleet sales — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles currently owns 45 percent of the American minivan market, up from 33 percent in the first eight months of 2015.

A portion of the credit for FCA’s resurgence belongs to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica, a direct Town & Country replacement that we’re testing this week. After forming only 25 percent of Chrysler brand sales at this stage of 2015, minivans are suddenly responsible for half of all volume at the fading Pentastar brand.

Through the end of August, overall U.S. minivan volume has risen by nearly 65,000 units thanks to improvements by lower-tier players — Kia Sedona and Nissan Quest — and  nearly 68,000 additional sales from Chrysler and Dodge dealers.

Not unpredictably, U.S. sales of the Honda Odyssey are falling as Honda readies a replacement for 2017. Moreover, Odyssey volume is constrained somewhat by inventory. Heading into August, Honda dealers had just a 42-day supply of Odysseys according to Automotive News. The van is built at the same Alabama plant as the Honda Pilot, Acura MDX, and newly launched Honda Ridgeline.Annual minivan sales 2005-2016After claiming top spot in the minivan sector in calendar year 2015, the Toyota Sienna has seen sales slide 4 percent in 2016, a modest decline of 3,805 units. Toyota is more than earning these sales back via sales of other family friendly vehicles. The Highlander, for instance, is up 7 percent, a gain of 7,660 sales. The Toyota RAV4 and Toyota 4Runner, meanwhile, outsell the Sienna by more than three to one.

We’re also witnessing the disappearance of the Mazda 5 from U.S. showrooms. Still on sale north of the border, the last few Mazda mini-MPVs are leaving Mazda lots now. The Mazda 5 accounts for more than 7,000 lost sales in the minivan sector in 2016’s first eight months.

In strict year-over-year terms, the rise of Chrysler/Dodge minivan sales after 2015’s sharp drop-off — sales were down 43 percent at this point last year — is the leading cause of the segment’s improvement. But the return of Chrysler/Dodge minivan dominance is not just noticeable in the context of 2015’s doldrums, but in a historical sense, as well.

If the current rate of growth is sustained through the final one-third of 2016, FCA’s minivan volume will surpass 2014’s output and soar ahead of the levels achieved at any point since 2007.2017 Chrysler PacificaThat rate of growth will be difficult to sustain, however. The Town & Country clear-out that boosted sales in the first-half of 2016 is coming to a close. The expansion of Grand Caravan market share from the early part of the year is stalling. And the Pacifica is not (yet) the deeply discounted minivan to which consumers have become acclimated inside Chrysler/Dodge showrooms. Grand Caravan pricing, before negotiations or extra discounts are even taken into consideration, begins roughly $5,000 south of the Pacifica’s entry point.

Nevertheless, the Pacifica is an alluring piece of family kit. Stylish, quiet, and with the eight-seat capacity Chrysler/Dodge vans have so long lacked, the Pacifica in many ways feels like a leap beyond the aging competition. It’s not perfect, and some of the conclusions that can be drawn from our minivan consumer clinic suggest Chrysler will not be able to compete at a lofty price point once the sheen wears off.

Regardless, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is undeniably important to the Chrysler brand. With the midsize 200 departing shortly and the Town & Country discontinued, there are only two models left in the Chrysler lineup: the Pacifica and the full-size 300 sedan. Through the first eight months of 2016, minivans have produced 50 percent of Chrysler brand sales; the 300 has contributed only 38,429 sales, or 23 percent of the brand’s total.

The overall FCA minivan strategy does not yet appear to be settled. “While I can confirm that there is a 17 MY Dodge Grand Caravan,” FCA spokesperson Angela Bianchi told TTAC earlier this month, “we don’t comment on future product plans beyond the current model year.” Bianchi did confirm that the Grand Caravan will be discontinued, but not when.

Year-to-date, the Grand Caravan accounts for 53 percent of FCA minivan sales in America and is on track for its best year since 2007.

[Images: FCA/Honda/Toyota/Kia/Nissan, © Timothy Cain/TTAC]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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39 Comments on “U.S. Minivan Sales Will Rise To A Nine-Year High In 2016, FCA Market Share At 45 Percent...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Bianchi did confirm that the Grand Caravan will be discontinued, but not when.”

    Makes perfect sense…let the cash register ring as long as you can.

  • avatar
    threeer

    In preparing to take my daughter to her first true dog show this coming weekend, I’m starting to realize that *maybe* the purchase of our used 2014 Escape wasn’t as optimal of a choice as we had thought it was. Between the dog kennel, all of the grooming stuff (who knew that dogs could use so much product??), a folding table, several chairs, a fan and a cooler the little CUV/SUV will be completely full. Before the purchase crunch happened (which came exactly two days after my Lancer Sportback Ralliart chucked the timing belt), we had casually looked at several vans, Dodge included. Having rented one last year at my son’s UPT graduation, we were impressed with the room, comfort and convenience (especially the fold down middle seats). But when we actually went to purchase, something was nagging in the back of our minds about driving a minivan. Yes, it was 100% mental and a van would have made much more sense, something I’m seeing now as we start getting more involved in things with kid #2. Maybe I should have looked harder for a cooler looking variant (is there such)…maybe Darth Vader’ed out with black exterior, tinted windows and an upgraded set of rims.

    Humans are so fickle, aren’t we? A van is much more the practical solution to hauling, and yet many of us cringe at the thought of being seen in one (I guess the same can be said for wagons).

    Wish us luck with the dog show…going to be a long, long weekend.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      It’s almost as if vanity has a price.

      The Dodge Grand Caravan R/T looks pretty cool – especially with the dark rims and tint.

      And you can always stance a Previa #bippulife which is ice cold. I promise you that you’d get women’s phone numbers and the adulation of men of wealth and taste if you daily’d a stanced Previa. They’d say, “that whip so cold” and you could humbly say, “this old thang?”.

      And I gotta satire this because I only see it out of people over the hill of 30 –

      “I don’t think minivans are cool so I bought a CUV” as if CUVs are super cool and ice cold.

      It’s never “yeah, I had to pick between a Kia Sedona and an mv agusta f4”.

      Won’t someone think of the kids? Minivans are way more comfortable for passengers / precious cargo than SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      Having borrowed my sister in law’s minivan for an airport run, I can agree that while not sexy, they are very practical. Adults can even sit in the third row in upright seated comfort, with still room for luggage.

      People here bemoan the fading mid size sedan, but really, between mini vans and CUVs, I see no purpose to keep them alive.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      My wife and I only have 1 kid, but I will say that when you need to pack stuff for events things tend to get out of hand quickly.

      We tailgated our local college’s football game last week, and between the canopy, travel grill, folding tables, collapsible chairs, coolers full of food and drink, and whatever miscellaneous supplies like buns and disposable plates, we had zero room left in the 3-row CUV aside from the 3 seats that we were in.

      A van would have fit much more, and probably given us seating for at least one more person too.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I do historical reenactments and camp out at racetracks over the weekend. When consideration time came, I knew it had to be a van, period.

      I’ve got no worries about my self image. Besides, who’s going to call you a wimp when you’re carrying a cannon in the back?

  • avatar

    “Bianchi did confirm that the Grand Caravan will be discontinued, but not when.”

    Discontinuing the Grand Caravan is absolute foolishness. Market the Pacifica as a premium vehicle and the GC as the value player. It doesn’t have to be either/or, Chrysler. You’re killing a lucrative brand. Yes, people poke fun at the GC, but it meets many buyers’ needs, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Does not compute!

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      This. The tooling is probably paid for, just update the tech and use the same body for a few more years. What will Canadian families buy if Dodge loses the GC? It’s a huge seller here.

  • avatar
    RS

    I’m watching to see how the Pacifica fare’s with some miles on them.

    When my Ram pickup lease is done in a couple of months I’m getting a Stow-n-Go minivan to replace it. Probably buy used this time – something 2008 or newer. It’s kinda like a regular cab pickup and a topper, and crew cab with a topper all in one vehicle. The Ram with the 8sp/Hemi was excellent and if I wanted another truck, I’d definitely get another, but I’m not going to tow as much in the future and what I will tow, the minivan will easily handle with a Class II hitch.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    The Pacifica looks like a great candidate for when our 06 Odyssey will need replacing. However… “The Pacifica van is amazing but THIS flaw will blow you away!”

    …it’s an FCA product. I can’t get past that. We’ve been well taken care of by Japanese vehicles for a long time, so why would I take this unnecessary risk?

    Predictably the Honda or Toyota will end up getting our money.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Cactuar – Yup. That “FCA flaw”. My wife and I had a GC. 3-4 times per year it was at the local dealer getting something fixed. In the same time frame our Sienna has had 4 visits. My F150 has needed repairs once.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    threeer Well spoken, I am sure there are many folks that feel the same way but would never admit it. Two years ago I took the leap with a new Sienna and the only regret I have is that I didnt do it years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      mfgreen…oh, I admit it…and will likely regret it! The Escape isn’t bad, actually, but I have already seen some limitations to what I’ll be able to do with it. I had to borrow my sister’s Explorer to handle a dog rescue run a few months back because I simply couldn’t fit all of the pups in the Escape. A flat-bottom cargo hold like the Caravan offers would have swallowed up the kennels without issue.

      Sigh, vanity, thy name is SUV.

  • avatar
    MLS

    “…and some of the conclusions that can be drawn from our minivan consumer clinic suggest Chrysler will not be able to compete at a lofty price point once the sheen wears off.”

    Can we stop pretending that the “consumer clinic” was a valid exercise in market research? There are few meaningful conclusions that can be drawn from a poll of your friends and family.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    There’s got to be a bargain option, Chrysler.

    The base price of Pacifica is too high. Coming out with a de-contented, loss leader, lure them in Pacifica in a few years after you discontinue the Grand Caravan isn’t going to cut it and is only going to hurt your image as you try to sell the loaded models.

    Might as well run a shuttle to the Kia dealer for everyone who comes in to buy Caravan replacements.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      How is it too high? The base price of the Pacifica is the same as the Traverse, and CHEAPER than the Flex, Explorer, Sienna, Odyssey, and pretty much every other competitor save for the Sedona.

      You people can be unreasonable sometimes.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        And how many Traverse/Explorer owners will cop to their SUV being the minivan they were embarrassed to buy?

        Do you think Fiatsler would have 45% of the market if there wasn’t a $24,000 value package? Or a $26,000 SE model? Heck you have to go to the mid-level SXT to exceed the Pacifica’s base price.

        How is that point unreasonable?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    ” fading Pentastar brand”

    is stuff like this really necessary?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      You object to the Pentastar logo or the fade?

      Chrysler is about to be a two-model brand. Sales are down by a fifth this year while clearing out two models. 2016 will likely end at a five-year low with sales down roughly 60% compared with a decade ago.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        It is a fading brand. The Chrysler LX platform goes back to 2003, and that was based on Mercedes technology that goes back to the 90s. This is the W-Body of the 21st century. Yes, FCA has done plenty to keep modernizing the offerings (like GM has with the aged Lambda triplets) so why spend R&D money if it still works.

        But Chrysler is down to the 300 and the Pacifica — how is that sustainable in the US market? Not a CUV/SUV in sight and fullsize cars in the United States aren’t just dying a slow death — they’re basically dead.

        When you get down to it the 2017 Chrysler line up is a 14 year old platform fullsize sedan and a minivan.

        Dodge offers two LX based platform vehicles, the Challenger and the Charger. The Charger is a darling of subprime buyers who don’t want to be seen in a Mitsubishi. The Challenger is in a category of cars that is losing gas (no pun intended). Viper is a halo vehicle that doesn’t pay the bills and at the end of the line. The Dart is dead. The Journey is the darling of rental fleets and subprime buyers who need 7 passenger seating. The Durango is probably the best thing they offer that doesn’t have a Hellcat under the hood or Scat Pack option group – and no one knows about it. That leaves the aged but bargain priced Grand Caravan.

        No compact CUV, no midsize CUV, no B-segment or C-segment car, no hybrid, no electric.

        I would argue in many ways that former Chrysler brands are in worse shape than it was 10 years ago – certainly in the sense of its exposure in the US market and what would happen if the price of gasoline suddenly went up (which won’t happen short of some unforeseen event)

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    FCA might be missing the boat by not offering AWD in the Pacifica. It would take some of the “mommy car” sting out of it even after the newness of the design wears off, and maybe provide an alternative to the SUV/CUV. It would also justify the price.

    BTW, the Canadian pricing can be misleading. At 1.32 loonies per US dollar, your C$ 62,340 price (from the earlier article) is US $47,230, and I’ve seen Pacifica Limited models advertised with MSRP in the low $40’s. Discounting is alive and well at all FCA dealers, they know no other way to move the metal.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Well, I did my part by buying a 2016 Sienna XLE back in June. It replaces a 2006 Sienna I bought new exactly 10 years prior. Great vans, dependable, comfortable, good resale value. It actually rides better than the Avalon.

    Someone mentioned dogs earlier and I think a van would be perfect for transporting them. Especially if you have an older dog, which may struggle getting into a truck or SUV. Plenty of room for everything too. Once you get past the mental machinations of owning a van, they really are pretty hard to beat. We don’t really need one with only 1 kid left in the house. But the passenger room, ride, and headroom are just too much to give up for RAV4 or CRV. And yes, I ride in it alone 4 or 5 days a week. I don’t think twice about it, please don’t let it bother you.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Threer-Yes when you start showing dogs it’s really amazing about all the equipment you need-crates, grooming tables, grooming equipment, blow dryer, chairs, change of clothing. I don’t do conformation anymore, I confine myself to performance events-obedience, rally, water rescue, draft work and I still need lots of gear and my Odyssey is really useful although sometimes it seems like every bit of space In the vehicle is taken up with gear. Good luck at the dog show, I hope your daughter does well!

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    Contrary to what gets reported in breathless puff pieces, there are a lot of older millennials that have a nice job, spouse, and are now starting to have kids in their late twenties/early thirties. It will be interesting to see if minivan sales rise in the next decade as this large demographic group with a lot of late bloomers has a bunch of kids.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Are people buying Pacificas? I live in the DFW area, and I’ve seen exactly one of them. I see many more Siennas, Odysseys, and even Sedonas.

  • avatar
    Tifighter

    “The Toyota RAV4 and Toyota 4Runner, meanwhile, outsell the Sienna by more than three to one.”

    I take it that the RAV4 and 4Runner combined outsell the Sienna three to one. Presumably, it is mostly the RAV4 bringing home the bacon here, even with 4Runner sales being up.

  • avatar
    thenerdishere

    I’m looking at new minivans now. Only finding a few new Nissan Quests on the dealer lots in TX. Does anyone know if they Nissan is getting out of the minivan segment?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Worth noting in 2005 that Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Saturn, Mercury, and Mazda, were all selling minivans.

    With the exception of left over Mazdas, all of the others listed above have been out of the game for years.

    600K units is pretty impressive.

  • avatar
    la834

    Are commercially-oriented minivans like the Transit Connect included in these sales figures? I ask because before they became available, I frequently saw standard passenger minivans doing light-commercial duty, but don’t think they were excluded in those 2005 sales figures.


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