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straight cash homie
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https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2019/06/07/minivan-sales-plunge-suv/1337426001/?csp=chromepush
  • At least a dozen minivan models have disappeared in the last decade and a half.
  • Minivan market share has plunged as SUV sales boomed.
  • The nation's declining birth rate is contributing to the minivan's demise.
With a baby on the way, Amit Patel recently had a choice to make when shopping for a new vehicle for his growing family.

Minivan or SUV?

After considering the Toyota Sienna minivan, the 31-year-old Boston-area tax consultant and his wife determined "an SUV would fit our needs."

They bought a Nissan Rogue hybrid to go along with their other SUV, the three-row Acura MDX. The Rogue had plentiful space, good gas mileage and strong security features, Patel said.

"We really didn’t need a minivan," he said. He also worried about the stigma that some people still associate with the body style.

"Minivans have always had the stigma of the soccer mom image even though they’re incredibly practical," said Michelle Krebs, analyst at car-buying site Autotrader.

Just like Patel, more Americans are saying no to minivans, once considered synonymous with suburban family life, even as the vehicle celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. In fact, Fiat Chrysler – whose Chrysler division is known for inventing the minivan – could soon kill off one of the segment's best-known models.

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Minivan sales as a percentage of the entire U.S. auto industry fell from 4% in 2009 to 2.6% in the first quarter of 2019, according to research and data firm IHS Markit.

Shifting needs

The primary factor hurting minivan sales is the nation's love affair with SUVs and crossovers, which have soared in number, giving shoppers a bevy of alternatives to the sliding-door minivan.

George Augustaitis, director of industry and economic analytics at CarGurus, said the nation's declining birth rate and a movement toward city life have also contributed to the decline of minivans.

"It's slightly easier to get around in an SUV, and if you only have one kid and you’re 28, 29, 30, the SUV is going to provide everything you need," he said.

SUVs now account for about 50% of U.S. vehicle sales, up from about 31% in 2009, according to Edmunds and IHS Markit, respectively.

3-row SUVs proliferate

The shift in tastes has spurred more automakers to add SUVs to their lineups while shrinking their minivan offerings.

For years, there were only a few three-row SUVs on the market – largely from the Detroit Three automakers. But now, foreign automakers are suddenly introducing hulking SUVs that present a viable alternative to minivans.

Recent three-row SUV introductions include the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride and Volkswagen Atlas. Toyota revealed at redesigned Highlander SUV at the New York Auto Show in April, and the Honda Pilot has been soaring in popularity.

"Manufacturers are pouring resources into design and development" of SUVs but not minivans, said Tom Libby, auto analyst at IHS Markit.

Minivan nameplates disappear

About a dozen minivans have been discontinued in the last decade and a half, including most recently the Nissan Quest following the 2017 model year. Minivans like the Chevrolet Uplander, Buick Terraza, Mazda 5 and Pontiac Montana are long gone.

There are only five left still in production: the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan. But Fiat Chrysler is expected to discontinue the Caravan sometime in the coming years.

That doesn't mean minivans will perish altogether at any point in the immediate future. Fiat Chrysler, for example, sold 151,927 Grand Caravans in 2018, although analysts say the vehicle is largely sold to fleet buyers, not consumers. And the automaker's Chrysler Pacifica, introduced in 2017, has impressed reviewers with its design and technology, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.

Analysts say the minivan could even be poised for a resurgence one day as the world gravitates toward self-driving cars and Americans give up vehicle ownership.

"When it comes to moving people and things, minivans remain a top choice to get the job done," Fiat Chrysler said in an emailed response to questions. "As the original utility vehicle, minivans offer up an amazing blend of functionality, efficiency and comfort."
Surviving minivans on shaky ground

Still, Fiat Chrysler confirmed that the Grand Caravan "will eventually go away," but the timing has not been determined.

Other automakers say they're sticking by their minivans:

• Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin said the automaker still has "long-term plans to invest, refresh and renew the Sienna."

• Honda spokeswoman Jessica Pawl said the Odyssey "remains an important part of our lineup."

• Kia spokesman James Bill said the Sedona "is an important vehicle for Kia markets around the world, including the U.S."

Eric Lyman, chief industry analyst for ALG, a subsidiary of car-buying research site TrueCar, said the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna have performed the best among retail customers, though they ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, among all minivans 2018 total sales.

"The idea of reliability and durability and product quality is paramount to the purchase – and Toyota and Honda have wrapped up that perception," said Lyman.

One "consequence from all these utilities instead of minivans is a lot more door dings in the parking lots of Walmarts and malls across America as kids hastily enter and exit the vehicle" of SUVs, Lyman said.

Lyman owns a minivan and remains a fan of the body style but acknowledged that he's increasingly the exception.

"The minivan is a functional vehicle and they certainly have become more stylish, but there is a limit to what you can do from a styling perspective of a minivan – and does the target demographic really care about some of the nuance in that styling?" he said.

With sales consideration plunging, according to Autotrader, the future of the minivan may be following a similar course as other vehicles that ended up in the auto industry's junkyard.

"When I looked at the sales and looked at the (market) share drop, it reminded me of the compact pickup segment," CarGurus analyst Augustaitis said.

No automakers sell compact pickups in the U.S. anymore.
 

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Sometimes I think these article writers just have too much time on their hands and want to weigh in on a subject in a faux intellectual manner and I've been hearing about the death of the mini van for years and years now.



Having just gone through two (Subaru Forester, Ford Explorer) SUV 'mini van replacement vehicles' in the last few years, I'm now back where I belong after having bought my Sienna, and I would have been here a lot sooner if I'd realized that there was an AWD alternative to my Astro van.



There are a lot of problems with the writers hypothesis and a lot of problems with an SUV for someone who really needs a mini van. They can be somewhat interchangeable, but suffice to say, there is a huge difference between a vehicle that can have all the seats removed and one that can't.
 

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https://www.dodge.com/grand-caravan.html
The Grand Caravan design has not changed since like... 2008... So it's not much of a surprise Sienna's and Oddessy get a lot of sales. I hate minivan's because I don't want to work on them but I also doubt that minivan's will disappear anytime soon. They still have their uses and there is still some things that a minivan does better than a crossover. What does it do better? I guess seating and overcrowding and a wheelchair ramp but otherwise I don't know.
 

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...I also doubt that minivan's will disappear anytime soon. They still have their uses and there is still some things that a minivan does better than a crossover. What does it do better? I guess seating and overcrowding and a wheelchair ramp but otherwise I don't know.
Bingo. They have the greatest amount of enclosed available space for a vehicle of their size and with more and more people turning into gypsies, the market is actually expanding.

Add AWD, lots of creature comforts, rack & pinion steering to maximum internal space and the future for mini vans looks brighter than ever.
 

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straight cash homie
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Discussion Starter #7
Sometimes I think these article writers just have too much time on their hands and want to weigh in on a subject in a faux intellectual manner and I've been hearing about the death of the mini van for years and years now.

Having just gone through two (Subaru Forester, Ford Explorer) SUV 'mini van replacement vehicles' in the last few years, I'm now back where I belong after having bought my Sienna, and I would have been here a lot sooner if I'd realized that there was an AWD alternative to my Astro van.

There are a lot of problems with the writers hypothesis and a lot of problems with an SUV for someone who really needs a mini van. They can be somewhat interchangeable, but suffice to say, there is a huge difference between a vehicle that can have all the seats removed and one that can't.
There still will be a demand, but I think it gets overshadowed by how SUVs seem so popular with buyers, but yeah, part of the issue not with the vehicles but PEOPLE. More people want SUVs than they do want vans. A lot of it is stigma. Americans seem to have more stigmas against traditional family vehicles, which were wagons, vans and now sedans (mid and fullsize). Don't even want to get started with 'trucks', perhaps it is a alpha male thing.
 

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Always have been and will be a fan of minivans. There is no other car other than a full size extended SUV like a Suburban where you can sit 7-8 people comfortably and have enough cargo space for everyone's luggage. Midsized SUVs simply don't have enough space for this. Minivans are the best road trip vehicles, if you can get past the "soccer mom" stigma. IMO, it's foolish to sacrifice practicality for "image". My next car will be a Sienna!
 

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There still will be a demand, but I think it gets overshadowed by how SUVs seem so popular with buyers, but yeah, part of the issue not with the vehicles but PEOPLE. More people want SUVs than they do want vans. A lot of it is stigma. Americans seem to have more stigmas against traditional family vehicles, which were wagons, vans and now sedans (mid and fullsize). Don't even want to get started with 'trucks', perhaps it is a alpha male thing.
I absolutely agree with those who think that most SUV's look better than mini vans. but even so, I couldn't fight it and have broken down and gone back to the mini van. Except this Sienna is a much nicer vehicle than my Astro van was.
 

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While many people would think I'd be the last person to even consider a minivan, I actually did consider buying one. Seems very out of place for someone with a sports car and 2 sport bikes. But I was looking at the angle where instead of having to deal with a trailer, I would get a minivan to load a track bike in to go do track days. I've heard other track junkies buy mini vans for this purpose.
 

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straight cash homie
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Discussion Starter #14
While many people would think I'd be the last person to even consider a minivan, I actually did consider buying one. Seems very out of place for someone with a sports car and 2 sport bikes. But I was looking at the angle where instead of having to deal with a trailer, I would get a minivan to load a track bike in to go do track days. I've heard other track junkies buy mini vans for this purpose.
If only they made it
 

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I recently purchased another vehicle and was initially looking to replace my Sequoia. My price range was around $12K - $15K (cash buyer). On a side note, I was also looking to replace my Corolla with an LS430 the same week. Additionally, my Sequoia has one of the most insanely complete service histories. At 240K I've done every major service and part replacement imaginable including replacing all struts/shocks and air springs with OEM parts. I would take it to Alaska and back.

I was ONLY looking at newer Sequoias or minivans. Since there were basically no Sequoias, I looked at basically all minivans. I didnt want any Chrysler or Nissan product and I didn't want to deal with Honda timing belt maintenance. This basically left me with 3rd gen Siennas. I looked at around 40-50 Siennas and was seriously considering purchasing 3 of them. However I had internal conflict with moving to a vehicle with less features than my Sequoia. Since it's a Limited, it had to have navigation/infotainment style radios, DVD, leather, clean title, and full service history. This limited me to vehicles which were either insanely expensive for their mileage or out of my price range altogether. I could have looked at older 2nd gen Siennas, but they didn't offer a technology or age decrease to justify it as a replacement for the Sequoia. Also side point, when I bought the Sequoia, I also wanted a minivan but alas they were slightly too expensive for me in 2015 as well.

At the end of the day, we made the choice to keep the Sequoia, keep the Corolla, and purchase an LS460. Not because we didn't want a minivan, but because Siennas are pretty expensive when moving from a loaded Sequoia.

If I was the type to purchase new, a minivan would be the only thing I shop. No other vehicle offers more family utility for the money. Plus unlike a comparably sized SUV, a minivan doesn't take a major fuel economy and maintenance hit. A Sienna requires no more maintenance than a Camry and gets similar fuel economy.
 

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"The minivan is a functional vehicle and they certainly have become more stylish, but there is a limit to what you can do from a styling perspective of a minivan – and does the target demographic really care about some of the nuance in that styling?"
My thoughts exactly.
 
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