Minivan Shortage in North America this spring into summer

I have been in the Car Business at a Large Ram Jeep Dodge Chrysler ( FCA ) Store for the past 13 years, and sales targets and objectives are mentioned on a daily basis. Who in the car business has not heard on a regular basis : “ Let's get these cars out for month end ! Got to hit our target.“
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The Dealer Principal usually has his own target he wants his Managers and staff to achieve. But the motivation is usually based on what the manufacturer has imposed for the Franchised dealer of that size or volume within his area. If you are familiar with the Automotive Industry, you know that if the Manufacture's targets are hit, there's bonus money. And it's split between Owner and Managers. And each month comes to an end, and we either hit or missed our Manufacturer's established target for that month. Mood in the showroom at the beginning of the following month is usually a reflection on whether we achieved or missed that target. A better paycheck..... or maybe not !

But in order to hit targets, a Dealer counts on his “Hot sellers” to move out of the showroom and or dealer inventory. Of course, in the FCA line or Chrysler Fiat, the Chrysler Town and Country as well as the Dodge Caravan have been extremely reliable in Volume Sales. Both in Fleet and Retail. You see them everywhere. My wife and I have one. Our children are adults so our reason for having one is the practicality of being able to go on road trips, camping, moving “stuff”,etc.

Over the years, I have seen many young families come into the showroom to buy a Minivan. Husbands often complain that they are buying it against their will. It's not cool to own a minivan, but they can only afford one car and it has to be able to move 6 people in the family, plus the dog, and luggage. So they “frown and bear it” as they sign their sale's contract !

However, this spring may present a significant problem in availability of these vans, Why ? As many know, the Plant in Windsor, Ontario is the sole plant for production in North America. And they are closing the plant to production as of this month ( February 13 ) to re-tool or refit for the 2016 model.
In any car manufacture's model year, there's traditionally a summer holiday shutdown, which allows a 2 -4 week re-tool or refit for the ensuing model year. But this shutdown appears to be til end of May. That amounts to over 3 months. It appears that they will resume some of the 2015 model Vans simultaneously to the 2016 models, and orders will , ( we hope ) continue to be filled.

This significant elapse of time is likely to have a huge domino effect on supply and demand. It will affect the dealer's ability to hit his Imposed target. Low supply of Minivans will drive up the selling prices, not to mention choice of color and equipment. And the Fleet Sales will feel a huge pinch as well. For example, try to rent a Van for your summer vacation if supply is short to the Rental Companies. The arrival of Ordered units could be delayed. We hope this doesn't happen, but it could.

Thus, if someone is looking to trade their Minivan this spring or summer, I suggest that the trade value will be strong. On another note, since we mentioned that summer is coming, spring has to come first.

Always trying to put a positive spin on the weather, it appears that milder weather is almost upon us. So take Heart New England, spring is just around the corner. Enjoy your spring and summer vacations and for all the minivan lovers, shop early if you want to trade for a Chrysler Town and Country, or a Dodge Grand Caravan.

Mike Thomas
Dilawri Group of Dealers


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