Chrysler to cut back on its minivan offerings

Old 10-13-2011, 10:54 AM
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Default Chrysler to cut back on its minivan offerings

Chrysler Group LLC plans to scale back its minivan lineup in the North American market as it eliminates duplication on the showroom floor.

The auto maker will feature only the Chrysler Town and Country in the U.S. market and likely just the Dodge Grand Caravan in Canada by 2013, as well as develop a so-called people-mover that will try to entice customers who want the space of a van, but the fuel economy and more distinctive styling of a crossover utility vehicle.

“We cannot have the same type of vehicle in the showroom because the customer is not stupid,” Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne was quoted as saying in Monday’s edition of the trade publication Automotive News.

The move is the latest evolution of what has been one of Chrysler’s most important vehicle lines in the past three decades. Chrysler, which introduced the minivan in the 1980s and makes all those vehicles at an assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., has maintained its lead by introducing such innovations as a driver’s side sliding door, automatic lift gate and second-row seats that swivel.

But the segment has declined steadily since the 1990s – when North Americans bought more than one million minivans annually – as crossovers became the hottest selling vehicles in the market.

“The challenge with the van is the [soccer Mom] stigma,” said one senior industry executive. Enter the people-mover, which will be built off the same platform or basic under-body as the minivan and carry seven people, as minivans do now.

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