Minivan (Sales) Magic to Commence Soon?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
minivan sales magic to commence soon

There was a flurry of speculation earlier this year about a traditional people hauler, with whispering voices claiming that, in a bid to boost demand, Fiat Chrysler was prepared to offer an all-wheel drive version of its Pacifica minivan. Minivan sales aren’t doing too hot, as you know. Crossovers and the like…

While the automaker’s minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario did get a funding top-up in April, thus far the only byproduct of that $355 million cash dump was the creation of a new/old nameplate — Voyager — to stand in for lower-trimmed Pacificas. A new bit of evidence, however, does point to an eventual AWD Pacifica.

From Twitter user, um, Takuro Spirit comes this:

In looking to see if the "VOYAGER" badge has been added to the FCA Star Parts catalog, I noted a little something…

— TAKURO SPIRIT (@TakuroSpirit) November 13, 2019

The rumblings this past spring were not confirmed by FCA, though Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, did tell Automotive News that extended summer downtime was being planned to add an AWD Pacifica to the mix. Since then, nothing — FWD Voyager notwithstanding.

If the parts catalog peep-show turns out to be correct, Chrysler won’t be the first automaker to attempt to juice a model’s sales through the addition of all-wheel drive. It’s become the go-to remedy in a market where falling sales afflict almost everything that isn’t a truck, SUV, or CUV. Currently, only the Toyota Sienna offers minivan customers the option of four-wheel grip.

Whether or not an AWD Pacifica would actually lead to a dealership dash is debatable, though the overall package is a better stand-in for a CUV than the recent AWD sedans we’ve seen. Adding AWD didn’t seem to do anything for the revamped Mazda 3, nor did it set Nissan Altima sales on fire. Time will tell if the inclusion of a propshaft in the 2020 Toyota Camry and 2021 Avalon, both announced earlier today, aids in bringing more customers through the door.

Just how Chrysler — assuming an AWD Pacifica is on the way — intends to create an AWD minivan is an open question, too. Two options are on the table: a traditional mechanical linkup, which could necessitate body modifications, and an e-axle setup, where a small battery feeds power to an electric motor powering the rear axle.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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2 of 22 comments
  • Kosmo Kosmo on Nov 14, 2019

    AWD couldn't hurt. We've got it on our Sienna. Best "big wagon" ski car currently available. It looked like the new Ford Transit AWD could take away the crown, but Ford, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the Passenger Van version would no longer offer the hot rod, trailer dragging, EcoBoost V6. Argh!

  • Brettc Brettc on Nov 14, 2019

    FCA has announced that the third shift will continue now until March 31, 2020. So I guess Grand Caravan production will hang on for a while longer?

  • Buickman what about EMFs from riding on a giant battery?is there a vax for that?
  • ScarecrowRepair $1.2M at $1K per car is only 1200 cars, and if you spread that over 5 years, 240 cars per year, roughly one per work day and one more every weekend. Sell another every weekend for the interest. That seems plausible to me.
  • FreedMike There are the guys charging $20000 over sticker for a F150 Lightning. They won’t go broke.
  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT Some sales people I have met at Ford dealers don't appear smart enough to answer questions about EVs. They can't answer questions about payload, towing capacity and axle ratios when truck shopping.
  • Dukeisduke The E23 here is wearing steelies - so is it because it arrived at the yard wearing winter shoes, or because someone swapped the factory alloys for steelies (either before or after it arrived)?Fun fact - the turbocharged 745i was called the 745i because it used the 3.2l six with a turbo, and at the time, F1 was using a 1.4 multiplication factor for turbocharged engines to arrive at a computed displacement. So, 3,210 times 1.4, divided by 1,000 equals 4.5 (rounded up from 4.494). The 745i was way cool, with its big 7" round low beam headlights paired with the 5-3/4" high beams.