The Fall Of The Minivan

The Fall Of The Minivan

The minivan is a vehicle
that too many screams domesticity. It calls to mind images of
suburbs, family life and youth soccer teams. For much of its history,
it has been praised for its practicality and yet maligned
as so deeply uncool. Even Kevin Hart had something to say
about the minivan in his comedy special. I’m a grown little man. If your husband or your
boyfriend drives a minivan. Leave him alone. Any man a jobs, a minivan
does not care about life. But the minivan once helped save
Chrysler from total ruin in the 1980s. The unveiling of the first
Chrysler minivans in 1984 is still considered a landmark moment in
the history of the automotive industry. But the minivan is now relegated
to a small portion of the automotive market, despite seeming like
the sum of everything. Most people want in a car. If you were to look at it
from said automakers point of view, a product planning point of view, you
would ask consumers, what do you want? And they would give you a
list of things like roomy, spacious cargo, good fuel economy, and even
sliding doors might come up in that. And what would it be? It would be a minivan, but nobody
wants to buy one because they all want SUV is now. It’s
such an image problem. But my God, the moment someone drives
on to say, wow, this is really practical, I really like it. Meanwhile, buyers scoop up sport
utility vehicles and crossovers at an increasing rate. And automakers are
faced with the choice of whether they ought to keep
selling these multipurpose vehicles or throw in the towel in favor
of more popular and more profitable models. The origins of the minivan are. Believe it or not, the
subject of sometimes fierce debate. Some would say the first minivan
was the Volkswagen bus, which the German automaker began selling
in the 1960s. Others may point to even earlier examples
such as the Stout Scarab, a car from the 1930s. But the minivan, as customers typically
know it, is traced back to the 1984 model year when Chrysler
rolled out its Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager models. The story is that Lee Iacocca,
who had previously been famous for shepherding the Ford Mustang into
existence, had left Ford for Chrysler in the early 1980s. At the time, Chrysler was struggling
just a few years earlier. Congress approved the Chrysler Loan
Guarantee Act of 1979, securing one point five billion
dollars for the automaker. Chrysler needed a hit and it
got one under Iacocca is leadership. Chrysler developed the K car platform,
a kind of simple skeleton which the company used as the base
for a wide range of cars. This is common practice
in the auto industry. But this particular platform was so
adaptable it allowed Chrysler to simplify product development and cut
costs to an unprecedented degree. It was a major turn for
the company, and its first minivans were one of the many vehicles
Chrysler built on this platform. Coca had been part of a team at
Ford that had been working on a small family van concept to compete with
station wagons, which were quite popular at that time. When Iacocca decamped to Chrysler, he
took the idea of the minivan with him and the caravan and
Voyager models were released soon after. This is one of the most
important new concepts in American family motoring to come along in decades. The Chrysler Corporation’s new T wagon,
the Plymouth Voyager and the Dodge Caravan. The idea was to combine the
spaciousness and practicality of a cargo van with the driving
dynamics of a car. It could take sharp turns and
fit into a conventional garage. The generous interior space was made
possible by the front wheel drive powertrain on
Chrysler’s K platform. The van went on sale in January of
1984 and by the middle of the month, Chrysler’s truck sales were
already soaring 160 percent over the same period in
the previous year. Dodge Caravan. One vehicle that takes the place
of an economy car, sporty car station wagon and Van Dodge
Caravan is a transportation revolution. Other automakers rushed to
get in on the action. Toyota repurposed one of its
vans for the U.S. market and Detroit competitors Ford
and General Motors released their own smaller vans in
the years that followed. To lure away customers, for better
or worse, the minivan became a kind of cultural icon, a symbol of
the suburbs in much the same way the station wagon had once
epitomized American family life. It really became the replacement for
the station wagon and for what family is. You know, prior to that, took
as a you know, as a vehicle of choice for a rather, they were
moving around the city and doing sporting events or what have
you to take vacations. So it quickly became the
vehicle of choice for families. Minivans grew from about 4 percent of
new car sales in the early 1990s to a peak of around
7 percent in the early 2000s. But they fell from there. And automakers who once scrambled to
catch up to Chrysler’s hit vehicle began dropping out
of the race. Car buyers today won’t see a single
sliding door on a car based vehicle from either Ford or GM. Besides Fiat Chrysler, the only
other automakers selling minivans to Americans are Asian manufacturers. Toyota has the Sienna. Honda sells the Odyssey. And Keya makes the Sedona in 2018. Fiat Chrysler led the segment. The Dodge Caravan sold 150 1927
units, up 21 percent from the previous year. The Chrysler Pacifica
held steady, selling one hundred eighteen thousand three hundred
twenty two units. Honda’s odyssey took third place with
about one hundred six thousand sales, a six percent increase
over the previous year. But both the Toyota, Sienna and
Kia Sedona dropped more than 20 percent in sales, selling roughly
88000 and 18000 units respectively. That whole view of the soccer
mom mobile are really affecting the image of the minivan. It became such an icon for families
that anyone that was starting a family, you know, who didn’t want to be
seen as as the you know, the stereotypical American family was
looking for something else. Enter the SUV in raw numbers. The true family car has for a
long time been the sport utility vehicle and its car like cousin. The crossover. Whereas the total
minivan segment accounted for only about 3 percent of new
vehicle sales in 2018. Compact, midsize and large SUV were
a combined 35 percent of the market. That same year. But these vehicles are not just
hurting minivan sales and they are arguably doing more damage to
other segments such as sedans, crossovers, SUV and pickup trucks make
up almost 70 percent of the car market today. They have been climbing in sales since
the early 2000s, just as the minivan was beginning to peak. So with the pendulum swinging
wildly towards sport utility vehicles. What kind of future
does the minivan have? Could there be a revival? Probably not. Say industry watchers, the
minivans problem is that it is often seen as unfashionable as
it is practical, and its practicality may be the
root of its problem. The boxy shape, the sliding door,
and the sometimes surprisingly high gas mileage might be useful, but
to many buyers they seem the automotive equivalent of
orthopedic shoes. Crossovers in sport utilities are
arguably less practical, but they convey sporty ness and a rugged
lifestyle many people aspire to. The SUV is winning because it
is seen as sportier, right? Even has word sport in
its name for SUV. But it doesn’t lend itself as much
to a people mover in the same manner, which kind of lets
you steer away from that. You know, say soccer mom use that
term, but the same time is really the default one that
everyone goes with. But it’s odd because
it’s the most practical. Other than a large truck, a minivan
is going to get you basically everything you need. However, there still
seems to be a large enough slice of minivan buyers that encourage a
few brands to stay in the game. In 2016, Chrysler unveiled its
Pacifica model, an update to the minivan it had pioneered
four decades earlier. It was a considerable change from
the town and country minivan that had come before it. Chrysler marketed
the Pacifica as a sleeker, more refined vehicle than its
predecessor and competitors. Customers can still opt for luxury
features such as leather seats and an appearance package that blacks
out the entire vehicle. Giving it an
almost intimidating look. Honda was the first to offer
a built in vacuum cleaner and competitors have followed suit. But despite these innovations, the mini
vans best chance at a future in the U.S. might be in fleets. Fleet sales for rentals, taxicabs
and ridesharing companies already make up a considerable
portion of sales. If we fast forward a little bit
further into the future and we start to get into it, Ptolemy and ride
sharing, you know, there are other good that can be an interesting play for
a box on a wheels kind of design. Or you can do a lot
with at interior, especially if you don’t have a driver and you’re using
that space, you know, rather its workspace, potentially a sleep space,
kitchen on wheels, party and wheels, whatever it might be. I think there’s a lot of
options that potentially could see that shape come back. Notably, Google’s autonomous driving
project, Whammo gave the Pacifica one of its biggest single
lifts in years when it ordered 62000 of the minivans for its
own planned fleet of self-driving vehicles. Ultimately, there is only so
much automakers can do to spruce up the humble haulers image,
change the minivan too much and it ceases to be a minivan. Instead, it becomes
just another crossover.

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  1. WHEN gas is back to $4 a gallon in the US, all those SUVs the old 'Yuppies' are buying up like idiots now, will be worth nothing, and everyone will be trading them in screaming for small cars, and mini-vans with high mileage again. Europe has small vans/trucks…'petrol' costs a fortune there….so they STAY with smaller vehicles. Hey if you can afford a Jag. you can afford to put fuel in it. But in the USA, WE hated $4 a gallon gas….people have very short memories. Those SUVs will be worth nothing when they go to trade them in….on the new $50K mini-vans!

  2. Minivans are great, after traveling with a company which employed 6 200-300lbs men to a crew, we rented minivans and they fit all of us plus all our luggage in the stow and go areas, and we all had from to spare and were comfortable. I was convinced then, now I have a small family with 1 kid however we got a minivan. It is so practical! Tons of storage, spacious seating. It also almost replaced my truck too, lay the seats down and you have a covered bed of a truck. If needed lay a tarp in and you can move sand or anything like it. With the seats down I have fit a wheel chair with out needed to break it down. Love minivans and we are always planning to keep buying them, having at least one of our vehicles a minivan. As others have said, it is how much a person cares about their image. If they want to be ‘cool’ go for the suv and suffer the discomforts that are solved with a minivan. Once they finally can admit to themselves that they would really prefer practicality over headaches, multiple trips or anything else that comes up. They will get a minivan and finally be happy and stress free. It amazes me what people are willing to sacrifice for image.

  3. Minivans are for guys and gals with cohones large enough to stake out their own course in life, the "dont give a sh*t crowd. In the snowflake corner we have the Cuv, and for those with alot to prove, we have the bro-dozer, "compensator edition". The actual Suv's goes to the soccer mom's, who have no idea how to engage 4wdLow if they ever got stuck in the mud at the mall, and for those that constantly need to point out their superiority in small, rather than big matters, we have the luxu-sedans.

    Then you have those other people, who drive a minivan for its practicality, a sportscar for fun, a motorcycle for the adrenaline rush, a fast sedan for business, a rental truck for towing, who loves all their vehicles equally, and wonder why the world is so narrowminded that one get considered and treated completely differently, based on the vehicle choice of the day.

    If a date cant stand being picked up in a minivan, she can walk home.

  4. Come to Philippines, my friend. We have new Toyota Hi Ace that looks like minivan. We still have many Asian minivans such as Toyota Alphard, Honda Odeyssy, Kia Carnival, Hyundai Starex, Chinese made MPVs which are still considered as minivan

  5. Its so sad how everyone is a follower instead of being them selves. SUVs will never be as good as a minivan. I own a minivan and I would never get rid of it for a SUV which I see and found not to be as functional as a minivan.

  6. A video about the fall of the minivan without mentioning the impact of the chicken tax AND NAFTA? Sigh

  7. SUVs? No one wants SUVs anymore. It's all Teslas, Pick Ups, and the "sporty" Jeeps . Nowadays even the crossover SUVs look like minivans. (Yes, I'm looking at you too, Lexus and BMW. Hell, you could even add Bentley, Jaguar, and Mercedes to that list.)

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