Chrysler minivan sales jump, in Canada and U.S.
September 1, 2009
WINDSOR, Ont. -- Sales of Chrysler vehicles in August decreased compared to the same time last year — but the Dodge Grand Caravan was not among the products lacking consumer demand.
According to figures released by the company Tuesday, sales of the Windsor-manufactured minivan increased on both sides of the border.
In the U.S., a total of 10,648 Grand Caravans were sold in August 2009 — an improvement of 13 per cent compared to August 2008.
It’s the second consecutive month that Grand Caravan sales in the U.S. have risen.
In Canada, the Dodge Grand Caravan outsold its nearest minivan competitor by a margin of seven to one, grabbing an unprecedented 66 per cent of the market segment.
Combined with the Chrysler Town & Country, 5,167 Chrysler minivans were sold in Canada in August 2009 — a 92 per cent jump compared to August 2008.
To meet the demand, Chrysler recently announced that it would retain the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant.
“Momentum has been building at Chrysler Canada throughout the summer,” said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Chrysler Canada.
“With our Windsor minivan plant now operating around the clock and our minivans currently commanding 70 per cent segment share, this is great news for prospective customers and bad news for the competition.”
Steve Beahm, vice-president of sales operations for Chrysler in the U.S., said the Dodge Grand Caravan was among the Chrysler vehicles that proved to be “very popular with consumers” last month.
“Chrysler Group’s large car, minivan, crossover and truck segments all posted increases in retail sales in August,” Beahm said.
However, the brisk minivan sales were not enough to offset a decline in Chrysler’s overall sales.
In the U.S., sales for August 2009 fell 15 per cent compared to August 2008, while Canadian sales dropped seven per cent.
An article in the Wall Street Journal pointed to lost sales due to low inventory levels caused by the three-month lack of production during Chrysler’s bankruptcy process.
But the article also quoted an upstate New York dealership that reported being “totally out of minivans.”
Although sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan in August are far from the figures posted during the height of the minivan boom in the 1990s, recent demand for the vehicle appears contrary to the perceived wisdom that the minivan market is dead.
“What’s that old saying? ‘Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated?’” said Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.
Nantais acknowledged that the minivan market is “not like it used to be,” but he pointed out that “there is still a demand for vehicles that have a great deal of utility. Whether it’s a minivan, a pickup truck or whatever, there will be customers who have specific utility requirements. Those are the people who still seek out these types of products.”
Nantais also noted that technological improvements have made minivans and other utility vehicles “more fuel-efficient and cleaner than ever before.”
Mary Gauthier, a spokeswoman for Chrysler Canada, touted the Dodge Grand Caravan as “the gold standard” of minivans.
Gauthier noted that some of Chrysler’s competitors have dropped out of the minivan segment, and she believes consumers still seeking minivans are turning to Chrysler products.
“The Dodge Grand Caravan has been extremely strong,” Gauthier said. “If you look at some of the features that we’ve got on (the vehicle), they’re absolutely unbeatable.”
LINK:Chrysler minivan sales jump, in Canada and U.S.