Spring Is Here; Chrysler's Fancy Turns To Minivan Sales

Chrysler says its redesigned minivans have been well-received by consumers and they have been greeted by glowing reviews--but in the six months since the Chrysler and Dodge brand vehicles launched, U.S. sales have dropped 12%. There's a lot riding on the next few months, since over a 10-year period about 40% of minivan sales have occurred in the spring.

Chrysler celebrated the launch of the redesigned minivan a few weeks after it was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management. It came at a time when its Detroit competitors were exiting the segment in favor of so-called crossover vehicles. The minivan segment dropped 18% last year after dropping 12% in 2006, Autodata numbers show. The decline has accelerated in 2008.

Chrysler says its minivan retail sales are up 12% since September and though overall U.S. sales are down 12%, the drop is solely attributed to the eliminated short-wheel-base vehicle. It says the vast majority were vehicles sold to rental car companies. It also points to internal numbers that say owner loyalty is up 10% for the Grand Caravan and 26% for the Chrysler Town & Country.
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