By on July 21, 2020

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited with S Appearance - Image: Chrysler“How bad is it? And how bad is it going to be?”

Those were our questions five months ago when describing the American minivan category’s paltry 408,982 sales in calendar year 2019. At that time, the rate of decline experienced by the segment suggested that, “America won’t even acquire 300,000 minivans next year.”

Enter novel coronavirus and, consequently, a second-quarter in which auto sales in the United States tumbled by a third. For perspective, that’s 1.5 million fewer sales between April and June of 2020 than during the equivalent period one year earlier.

Meanwhile, as quarantines and lockdowns and isolations and shutdowns caused new vehicle demand to shrink, the previously beloved minivan segment saw its share of the U.S. market absolutely crater.

1.5 percent.

One. Point. Five. Per. Cent.

Only 15 out of every 1,000 new vehicles sold in the second-quarter of 2020 were vans: Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravans, Honda Odysseys, Kia Sedonas, or Toyota Siennas. That was down nearly a full percentage point from Q1; down more than a full percentage point year-over-year.

Put another way, that disastrous loss of market share was caused by a 61-percent year-over-year drop in van sales, a decline equal to nearly 70,000 lost sales. There were contributing factors beyond COVID-19’s onslaught. The Dodge Grand Caravan, America’s top-selling van at both this time last year and in 2020’s opening quarter, ended production to make way for the eventual Chrysler Voyager. Toyota unveiled its fourth-generation Toyota Sienna – a hybrid-only effort – and began winding down the third-gen van that achieved real success over the course of a decade. Due in part to these two transitions, the Dodge/Toyota duo combined to shed some 48,000 of the segment’s 70,000 lost sales.

Yet regardless of specific vehicular implications, the buyers simply disappeared. They disappeared at a faster rate than they’ve been disappearing – and yes, they’ve been disappearing for a while. And they disappeared nearly twice as fast as they did across the rest of the market.

Pouring symbolic salt into the wound, the Ford Explorer on its own narrowly pipped the entire minivan segment in 2020’s second-quarter. One year earlier, as the new Explorer struggled to wind up and minivan sales were only approaching the outer rim of the toilet bowl, minivan volume was nearly three times stronger than Ford Explorer volume.

Now, the category produces just 1.5 percent of the overall industry’s sales, roughly in line with:

  • Toyota Tacoma: 1.7 percent
  • Subaru Forester: 1.6 percent
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee: 1.6 percent
  • Honda Accord: 1.4 percent
  • Toyota Corolla: 1.4 percent

For every Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Odyssey, Sedona, or Sienna sold in America in 2020’s second-quarter, American car shoppers drove home in 1.9 Toyota RAV4s (how bad do you feel for the people who only get one-tenth of a RAV4?). BMW, despite sliding more rapidly than the industry at large, is now outselling America’s minivan segment. So is Mazda, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. kiaMinivan market share is now just half what it was in 2016. Combining the changing tastes of America’s pro-crossover shoppers with the disastrous impact of the pandemic, 300,000 minivan units in 2021 seems like an expectation gone too far. At this rate, Americans might not drive home in 250,000 minivans in 2020.

Can an SUV-ified Kia Sedona, a hybrid/AWD Toyota Sienna, and a Chrysler Voyager swing the pendulum back in 2021?

[Images: Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Kia]

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

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19 Comments on “Minivan Market Share Plunged During America’s Pandemic-induced Second-quarter Auto Sales Collapse...”

  • avatar

    Well, they are very popular with rental lots in big child entertainment destination cities ( Orlando). So there’s some money to be made but a rather narrow market obviously.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup most of the drop was brought on by rental car companies stopping buying vehicles and they were the big buyers of the Caravan.

      • 0 avatar

        That sounds like a very good explanation. The article itself never attempts to parse out the overall drop in new car demand from the drop in *share* of minivans. It conflates the two.

  • avatar

    I wonder about the ability of the new Sienna hybrid on the highway with 4-6 passengers and their gear. I have read complaints among Highlander hybrid owners regarding the same and the Sienna will weigh considerably more than the Highlander. Not to mention it having a CVT. One of the things I like about my 2016 Sienna is the big naturally aspirated v6 which never seems to lack for power on highway trips. Guess we will see.

    • 0 avatar

      Please, not again.

      The Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive does not “have a CVT” like you’re thinking when you said what you said.

      The HSD is a completely radical re-think of power delivery. That it’s not a traditional planetary gearset auto trans, that it in fact doesn’t “shift” gears at all, doesn’t mean you should think of it as a CVT like you’re thinking of the Nissan units.

      It’s not. And its performance has nothing at all to do with the power transfer mechanism itself.

      • 0 avatar

        It technically does have a CVT, and e-CVT, which does drive similar to other CVTs. However it does differ radically than the mechanical CVTs in other vehicles.

        The problem with Toyota Hybrids being slow is the engine.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyotas hybrid system doesnt use a belt pully cvt like nissan. In fact its got no changing ratios at all. Its a fixed planetary gearset and the load is shared between the electric motor and gasoline motor connectrd to different inputs. They call it an eCVT and the term is decieving cuz instantly you think nissan belt pully cvt but its not.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If you’re going to make a minivan more SUV-like (e.g. fixed middle row), then why buy a minivan? This is the #1 reason why I wouldn’t replace my 09 Sedona with a 20 Sedona.

    IMO, minivans should be hitting them where they ain’t, rather than blending in with the rest of the SUV herd.

  • avatar

    This is good news for me as I may be minivan shopping within the next year. Was underwhelmed by recent rentals of a Sedona and Voyager, so I’m leaning towards Sienna or Odyssey (last chance to get that sweet Honda V6?). Of course, my perverse side is pulling towards a Transit Connect. Yeah, it’s underpowered, but also a foot shorter and several hundred pounds lighter than most of the competition. Also no digital gauges, touchscreens, or similar BS.

  • avatar

    Only 4 automakers make a minivan in the U.S. – Chrysler, Honda, Toyota and Kia.
    The Kia Sedona is a slow-selling minivan. After 36 years the Dodge Grand Caravan is being discontinued. The Toyota Seinna is the most reliable minivan. Minivans aren’t very popular anymore thanks to crossovers and SUVs which have be come more car like

  • avatar

    Can you sell a 7-8 passenger vehicle during an era of social distancing and face masks?

    i’m surprised motorcycle companies haven’t played up that angle.

  • avatar

    All jokes and “mommy mobile” stereotypes aside, things aren’t looking good for the minivan market in general The major benefits of minivans: idea space efficiency for kids and their stuff–or just stuff–makes little sense vs other vehicles when families are shrinking. Fewer adults are willing or able to raise the 2.1 kids needed to justify such a vehicle (or replace the human population if predictions of a late 21st century population collapse is to be believed).

  • avatar

    I love my odyssey but I can see why people arent buying minivans. Its cuz theyre a little too big now and families are smaller. Most families now have 2 kids and a 2 kid family can get by fine in the early years with a rav4 or crv. When they get older and want more cargo for kidcrap or a few extra seats for their kids friend they get the crossover cuz theyre a little smaller. Meanwhile dads getting an f150 or ram 1500 cuz crewcabs can be had for less than a pilot or odyssey and get better mpg. The minivan was great for the family of the 80s and 90s but today most families see crossovers and trucks as better options.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    You people have it all wrong. “Minivans” are selling better than ever, because the CUVs that are popular- the CRV, the RAV4, the Atlas, the Equinox- are ALL JUST MINIVANS WITH HINGED REAR DOORS. If you look at the dimensions, seating, roof height, etc, you’ll see very little difference.
    Sorry, tough dude in your brand-new Palisade- it’s a minivan.

    • 0 avatar

      No, all those have less room inside than real minivan.

      That said, we bought our Pacifica a month ago because the prices were really good at that time.

  • avatar

    The stylists are “sedaning” the minivan to death. (Because of longer product cycles, it is taking longer to kill.)

    They (evil stylists) are gunning for trucks next. [Sounds crazy, I know.]

  • avatar

    Minivan sales are down, but checking Carvana (on 7/27/20) for them, under Toyota Sienna, there are 36 for sale with 26 pending for sale. For Honda Odyssey, there are 50 for sale with 47 pending for sale. For Kia Sedona, there are 15 for sale with 13 pending for sale. For Dodge Grand Caravan, there are 177 for sale with 89 pending for sale. For Chrysler Pacifica, there are 57 for sale with 50 pending for sale. People may not want them new, they do seem to like them used though. Myself, give me a minivan any day over some CUV/SUV, unless I truly need a “truck”.

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