The 1984 Dodge Caravan
Patrick Rall's picture

Dodge Grand Caravan leads minivan sales through first half of 2012

Even though Ford and GM have essentially pulled out of the minivan segment, it remains a hotly contested portion of the American auto industry and through the first half of 2012, the Dodge Grand Caravan holds a fairly substantial lead over the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna.

The Dodge Caravan essentially introduced America to the minivan in the early 1980s and while the “soccer mom stigma” has lead some automakers to stop offering a true minivan, the Grand Caravan as it is known today continues to carry the torch for the American minivan. Through the first half of 2012, Dodge has sold 68,964 examples of the Grand Caravan – making it the bestselling minivan in the US auto industry. The Honda Odyssey is second with 61,756 units sold while the Toyota Sienna is sitting in third with 58,985 minivans sold this year. The Chrysler Town & Country sits in the fourth spot with another 57,851 units sold this year contributing to the Chrysler Group’s claim of being the top dog in minivan sales.

Based on the sales figures from the first half of 2012, the Dodge Grand Caravan has a comfortable lead of over 7,200 units on the second place Honda while the Toyota Sienna currently sits over 11,100 units behind the Grand Caravan. It should be noted that the Toyota Sienna led the minivan segment in sales in 2011, moving 111,429 units and besting the Grand Caravan by just 433 vehicles sold. While the Grand Caravan has a fairly large lead over the Sienna right now, Toyota has posted very strong months for minivan sales in both May and June so it isn’t out of the question that the race could get closer as the year goes on.

The fact that the Chrysler Group has two vehicles in the top four in minivan sales is impressive but this cross-company competition is something that Chrysler plans to do away with in the very near future. Right now, when a prospective minivan buyer comes into a Chrysler Group dealership, they have to pick between the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Town & Country. Many consumers who intended to buy a minivan pick one of the other (which essentially hurts Grand Caravan sales when they pick the Chrysler) but in other cases – consumers are sent away unsure of which to buy. In some cases, these consumers who cannot pick between the Grand Caravan and the Town & Country end up buying a different brand minivan.

However, the Chrysler Town & Country will soon be discontinued and in its place will be a new luxury crossover. This means that when prospective minivan buyers come into a Chrysler Group dealership in the near future, the Dodge Grand Caravan will be the only choice so it makes sense to expect that a fair portion of those who would have purchased a Chrysler Town & Country will instead purchase a Dodge Grand Caravan. When that time comes, we can expect that the Caravan name will once again dominate the minivan segment.

Consider this…based on the sales figures from this year, if 80% of Town & Country buyers would have purchased a Grand Caravan, with the other 20% being split between the Toyota and the Honda – Dodge would have sold 115,245 Grand Caravans while Honda would be around 67,541 and the Toyota would be around 64,770. Perhaps these assumptions of Town & Country buyers leaning so strongly towards the Grand Caravan are farfetched but we should keep in mind how similar these two minivans are right now and how the Grand Caravan will evolve once the Town & Country is gone.

The Chrysler Town & Country is a luxury version with extra chrome on the outside and more extravagant finishes, upholsteries and gadgets inside where the Dodge Grand Caravan is designed to be more of a sporty, “younger” minivan. That being said, when you get down to comparing the two minivans side by side and feature by feature – they are still remarkably similar. Because of this, the Dodge brand can do something as simple as adding a range-topping Grand Caravan model that focuses on offering similar levels of luxury to that seen on previous Chrysler minivans. Essentially the Chrysler Town & Country will still exist but it will be badged as a high end luxury trimline for the Dodge Grand Caravan and based on that theory – we can expect that many Chrysler Town & Country buyers will comfortably shift right into the Dodge Grand Caravan.

Through the first half of 2012, the Chrysler Group has sold a total of 130,258 minivans which includes 3,443 examples of the work ready Ram C/V – meaning that the Chrysler Group has sold more than 10,000 more minivans in the first six months of 2012 than Honda and Toyota have sold combined.

Source: Chrysler

Image: Chrysler

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