America’s mini-MPV market is dead. It was hardly ever alive.
Canada’s mini-MPV market is dying. The Chevrolet Orlando couldn’t make a go of it. Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 sales are 80-percent lower than they were a decade ago.
And if ever you thought North America’s mini-MPV market could be regenerated based off the strength of Europe’s compact minivan segment, you thought wrong. Even the Europeans — long lovers of small, family-friendly vehicles with affordable price tags, economical engines, and notable space efficiency — are turning away from mini-MPVs. In droves.
Why buy a minivan when you could have a rugged off-roader instead?
99.9 percent of the minivans sold in the United States in 2016 were (oxymoronically-titled) full-size minivans.
The Kia Rondo finished its brief one-generation U.S. run in 2011, having generated 73,100 total sales over the course of nearly five years.
Having produced more than 160,000 sales for Mazda USA, the Mazda 5 is likewise no longer part of the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Mazda 5 volume was essentially chopped in half between 2008 and 2014.
The Chevrolet Orlando arrived in North America with a decidedly Floridian name but never actually made its way to Florida, or the U.S. market as a whole. Having generated 12,038 Canadian sales, the Orlando quickly departed Canada after volume plunged 81 percent between 2012 and 2014.
Yet the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are still available in Canada. They’re alive and (un)well. And while “full-size minivans” claim 96 percent of Canadian MPV sales, Kia and Mazda just won’t give up on their genuinely mini minivans.
The Canadian new vehicle market is not merely a mini-representation of the U.S. auto industry. Full-size pickup trucks own a significantly larger percentage of the Canadian market, for example, and Canadians are nearly three times more likely to buy a Toyota Corolla than a Toyota Camry.
The Canadian market can, however, be a useful test bed.
Some new vehicle pass the test, such as the BMW X1 which enjoyed 16 fruitful months in Canada before grabbing a slice of the American pie. Others, such as the Chevrolet Orlando, wilt under the pressure of the Ontario-built Dodge Grand Caravan, endure a brief four-year run, and never even get a chance to make it in America.
Other cars aren’t prone on a test bed, they’re simply the response of different automakers to different markets. We already looked at seven U.S.-market vehicles which don’t make their way through the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. These are the eight current vehicles which are marketed in Canada, not the United States. ( We’ve already examined the seven cars Americans can buy that Canadians can’t.)
It’s unusual, though not unheard-of, for sub-10-year-old cars to show up in the cheap self-service wrecking yards; most that do are from Detroit.
I saw this ’07 Sedona covered with fingerpaint and hippie stickers in Wisconson a couple months ago, and now I’ve found this ’09 Kia Rondo in Colorado. The Rondo never made much of an impression in the United States and disappeared without a trace after the 2010 model year, so it’s of some interest as a forgotten car.
GM Canada sold only 32 copies of its Chevrolet Orlando in November 2014, the worst month yet for the rapidly declining Mazda 5 alternative.
Although the Orlando set an impressive sales pace in its first 18 months in Canada – 2612 were sold during 2012’s fourth-quarter – it’s been in free fall ever since. Sales have declined in 19 of the last 22 months. 2013 volume was down 68%. Through eleven months, Orlando volume in 2014 is off by 43%.
TTAC readers seem to care not a whit for the flashy stuff. The Jaguar F-Type, possibly the most anticipated press car this year among journalists, lifestyle bloggers and other dubiously affiliated members of the media, garnered less than 50 reader comments. Meanwhile, reviews of the Chrysler minivans regularly generate hundreds. In a quest to be of greater service to our readers (and because I know that another Generation Why can scarcely be tolerated), I decided to sample something that is hopefully of genuine interest to you all: a minivan that is not available in the United States. Like the Chevrolet Orlando, the Kia Rondo is available in a number of countries that did not support the Iraq War, among them, Canada. Like the Chevrolet Orlando, it is supposedly “right-sized” for Canada, thanks to a smaller engine, a smaller physical footprint and an available manual transmission (which will be popular in Northen Quebec and nowhere else). And like the Chevrolet Orlando, it’s hard to rationalize buying one of these when you can have a Dodge Caravan for similar money.
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