Chrysler Town & Country minivan to be replaced by a new crossover
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Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne stated at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show that one of the current Chrysler Group minivans, either the Chrysler Town & Country or the Dodge Grand Caravan, would be eliminated in the near future as part of an effort to avoid product overlap. Sergio has now confirmed that it will indeed be the upscale Chrysler Town & Country that will be eliminated in 2014. In its place will be a mid-sized crossover that will likely offer similar seating and cargo capacities to a minivan but with a more versatile (presumably four wheel drive) drivetrain allowing the new crossover to differentiate itself from the Dodge Grand Caravan. Nothing is known about this new crossover other than the fact that it is expected to arrive in 2014 and we can expect it to follow the same luxurious interior design that is seen in the likes of the Chrysler 300.
The Chrysler Group has made great strides to remove redundancy between the brands since Sergio Marchionne took the reins a few years back. With more than 90% of Chrysler Group dealerships offering all four of the original Chrysler brands (Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep), the company has found that it negatively impacts sales to have two vehicles that are so similar in the same dealership lot. Chrysler has found that when a prospective buyer comes into a dealership looking to buy a new minivan and they are presented with two nearly identical vehicles, it can actually drive them off when they are unable to decide between the two. The Chrysler Town & Country is nearly identical on the outside while also being fully identical in terms of the chassis and drivetrain with the only real differences being the badging and the upscale interior. Once the Town & Country minivan meets its demise in 2014, we can also expect to see the Dodge Grand Caravan get a more upscale interior – at least if only in a specific trimline.
It was originally speculated that the management team would opt to axe the Dodge Grand Caravan and keep the Chrysler Town & Country because the sales numbers are so similar and the Chrysler version demands a higher selling price. However, considering that the Caravan name introduced the “minivan” in America combined with the fact that Dodge Grand Caravan is leading in sales through the first four months of 2012, it doesn’t come as a huge shock that the Dodge minivan will remain while the Chrysler Town & Country will be replaced by a new crossover in 2014.
The Chrysler Group has other vehicles which share the same chassis and drivetrain options like the Dodge Avenger/Chrysler 200, the Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee/Dodge Durango but with all of those pairs of vehicles – there is a significant different in exterior design so they differ in far more than just badging. Once the Town & Country has been replaced by the new crossover, the Chrysler Group is likely to see a big jump in Grand Caravan sales along with seeing new buyers attracted to the Chrysler brand with the new offering.