Minivan Market Share Is Now at 2 Percent In America, and It's Rapidly Getting Worse

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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minivan market share is now at 2 percent in america and it s rapidly getting worse

Sales of minivans in the United States in 2019 plunged below Great Recession levels as every member of the existing quintet reported sharp year-over-year declines.

The 408,982 sales produced by the Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and Toyota Sienna in calendar year 2019 were a far cry from the 1.1 million sales produced by the sector in 2005, or even the 553,506 sold three years ago. But after hovering just below or above 3 percent of the market for half a dozen years, and after overall volume showed signs of recuperation through the middle half of the last decade, the segment’s 2019 collapse suggests we haven’t reached bottom yet.

At the current rate of decline, America won’t even acquire 300,000 minivans next year.

It’s a shame.

Granted, the author’s bias was not checked at the door. The modern minivan’s practical prowess (the ancient minivan’s practical prowess, for that matter) is indisputable, a fact our family encounters every day with three children, a large dog, an ATV trailer, assorted bikes, and sleds galore. Not unlike its rivals, our 2018 Honda Odyssey combines high levels of power, fuel efficiency, space efficiency, affordability, and unique packaging that popular three-row crossovers can’t muster. We’ve owned one before acquiring the current van, and despite the allure of pickup trucks, Tellurides, and hot hatches, we’re likely to own another.

Yet if a minivan purchase was typical in 2005, it was unexpected by 2013, unusual in 2019, and is likely to be downright odd by 2022.

How bad is it? And how bad is it going to be?

First, take it a model at a time. It won’t take long: hardly any contenders remain.

For the top-selling Dodge Grand Caravan, 2019’s 122,648 sales marked a four-year low. Grand Caravan sales fell 19 percent, year-over-year, in 2019. After enduring a hazy outlook for the last number of years, the Grand Caravan now appears to be approaching the end of its life cycle thanks to the dawn of a downmarket Chrysler Pacifica addition, the Voyager. Caravan sales peaked in the mid ’90s, with back-to-back 300k annual results in 1996 and 1997, and last topped the 200k mark in 2006.

The Grand Caravan’s Pacifica cousin worked with the Dodge to garner 54 percent of the American minivan market in 2019. Yet Pacifica sales, not unlike the Dodge, were down 17 percent, year-over-year. For the Pacifica, 2019 was the lowest-volume full year since its 2016 launch. At 97,705 sales, 2019 was just the third year since the recession that the Chrysler brand failed to sell more than 100,000 minivans.

It wasn’t even three years ago that Honda believed the U.S. minivan market was “stable at around half a million,” and that the company’s share of that market “is pretty well spoken for” at 125,000 units. The 25-percent market share figure is not outlandish – the Odyssey’s 99,113 sales in 2019 translated to 24 percent of the segment. But Honda’s belief in the size and stability of the minivan segment in 2017 now proves to be unrealistic. 2019 was the lowest-volume year for the Odyssey since 1999, the year Honda released its first proper sliding-doors people carrier.

In the Kia Sedona’s world, little has changed. The Sedona was an afterthought when it arrived in 2001 and has maintained that status. Gone, however, are the days when existing as an afterthought in America’s minivan category translated to 50k+ sales per year, which is what the Sedona managed consecutively from 2003 through 2006. Kia reported only 15,931 Sedona sales in 2019, down 64 percent since 2016.

Unlike the Sedona, the Toyota Sienna has typically been a powerhouse player in America’s minivan market. As recently as 2015, Sienna sales spiked to an eight-year high. In 2019, the tide had turned for a van that’s remained visually and architecturally similar for nine model years. Only 73,585 Siennas were sold last year, the worst full year in the nameplate’s history. Sienna sales are down 55 percent from the 2006 peak.

The picture isn’t pretty for any of America’s five MPV candidates. And based on the downward trend we’ve seen over the last 15 years and ignoring any other market force (EVs, fuel prices, a sudden acceptance of truly mini vans), minivan sales will number fewer than 300,000 by 2021, and fewer than 200,000 by 2024.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Kia, Toyota]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Feb 19, 2020

    If people bought vehicles based on needs, value and fun, Toyota wouldn't be able to keep up with Camry TRD demand, Honda with the Accord Sport and Acura with the RDX. Instead, we live in a world where Explorers and larger rule the roost. The level of overbuying or misunderstanding of one's own need is the norm. Or is it? Status vehicles are tall vehicles. That's where we are today, and status is more important than needs, value and fun. We kinda suck.

  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Feb 19, 2020

    Increasing requirements for economy and safety will likely evolve the CUV into revolutionary forms: hatchbacks and wagons! Be patient, and wait for something that's more to your liking. Or buy something old, and learn how to wrench.

  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.
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