Marchionne: no more Dodge Caravan after 2012
While speaking at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, Marchionne explained that either the Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler Town & Country would be removed in favor of a smaller “people mover” but according to Automotive News; the Dodge Caravan lineup will be replaced by a mid-sized crossover model for the 2013 model year. Along with the Dodge brand losing the Caravan in 2013, reports indicate that the Dodge Avenger will also meet its demise in an effort to assist the Chrysler 200’s growth in the segment. The new mid-sized crossover coming to Dodge in 2013 is slated to replace both the Caravan and the Avenger, so those who want a new Chrysler Group minivan or mid-sized sedan will turn to the Chrysler brand while Dodge enters a new segment with their crossover.
Marchionne has pushed to have all of the Chrysler Group brands under one roof so removing redundancy across the brands is an essential move but to remove the Caravan name from the Dodge lineup comes as a pretty big surprise. The Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are not far from being rebadged versions of the other, with the exception of some upscale touches in and around the Chrysler models so we knew that one would soon be gone. However, the idea of removing the Caravan – the vehicle which literally introduced the world to the modern minivan – seems like an interesting choice, especially when you consider the fact that the Dodge Grand Caravan is comfortably outselling the Chrysler Town & Country this year. The only differentiation between the two company minivans was the shift of the Town & Country towards the luxury end of the spectrum while also pushing the price of the Chrysler model over the $30k mark, while the Dodge was left to serve as the lower priced model. It will be interesting to see if Chrysler adds new trimline options for the Town & Country to attract those who are interested in the lower price of the Grand Caravan once the Dodge minivan is gone, or if Chrysler will take their entire minivan family to the upscale market.
Minivan popularity has declined over the past few years as the stigma of the “soccer mom vehicle” have made driving a minivan famously unpopular while the rising capabilities and dropping prices of the crossover and sport utility segments have taken some of the van’s market share. Based on the comments by Marchionne, we can expect the new Dodge brand crossover to stand just above the current Journey; which will also be replaced by a slightly smaller model for the 2014 model year. While Chrysler has made strides to shift their lineup to the luxury end of things, Dodge has moved to a more aggressive, sporty lineup so removing the minivan and adding a new sport ute makes good sense – hopefully removing the Grand Caravan doesn’t hurt the company’s control of the segment.
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Source: Automotive News