The Fall Of The Minivan


The minivan is a vehicle
that too many screams domesticity. It calls to mind images of
suburbs, family life and youth soccer teams. For much of its history,
it has been praised for its practicality and yet maligned
as so deeply uncool. Even Kevin Hart had something to say
about the minivan in his comedy special. I’m a grown little man. If your husband or your
boyfriend drives a minivan. Leave him alone. Any man a jobs, a minivan
does not care about life. But the minivan once helped save
Chrysler from total ruin in the 1980s. The unveiling of the first
Chrysler minivans in 1984 is still considered a landmark moment in
the history of the automotive industry. But the minivan is now relegated
to a small portion of the automotive market, despite seeming like
the sum of everything. Most people want in a car. If you were to look at it
from said automakers point of view, a product planning point of view, you
would ask consumers, what do you want? And they would give you a
list of things like roomy, spacious cargo, good fuel economy, and even
sliding doors might come up in that. And what would it be? It would be a minivan, but nobody
wants to buy one because they all want SUV is now. It’s
such an image problem. But my God, the moment someone drives
on to say, wow, this is really practical, I really like it. Meanwhile, buyers scoop up sport
utility vehicles and crossovers at an increasing rate. And automakers are
faced with the choice of whether they ought to keep
selling these multipurpose vehicles or throw in the towel in favor
of more popular and more profitable models. The origins of the minivan are. Believe it or not, the
subject of sometimes fierce debate. Some would say the first minivan
was the Volkswagen bus, which the German automaker began selling
in the 1960s. Others may point to even earlier examples
such as the Stout Scarab, a car from the 1930s. But the minivan, as customers typically
know it, is traced back to the 1984 model year when Chrysler
rolled out its Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager models. The story is that Lee Iacocca,
who had previously been famous for shepherding the Ford Mustang into
existence, had left Ford for Chrysler in the early 1980s. At the time, Chrysler was struggling
just a few years earlier. Congress approved the Chrysler Loan
Guarantee Act of 1979, securing one point five billion
dollars for the automaker. Chrysler needed a hit and it
got one under Iacocca is leadership. Chrysler developed the K car platform,
a kind of simple skeleton which the company used as the base
for a wide range of cars. This is common practice
in the auto industry. But this particular platform was so
adaptable it allowed Chrysler to simplify product development and cut
costs to an unprecedented degree. It was a major turn for
the company, and its first minivans were one of the many vehicles
Chrysler built on this platform. Coca had been part of a team at
Ford that had been working on a small family van concept to compete with
station wagons, which were quite popular at that time. When Iacocca decamped to Chrysler, he
took the idea of the minivan with him and the caravan and
Voyager models were released soon after. This is one of the most
important new concepts in American family motoring to come along in decades. The Chrysler Corporation’s new T wagon,
the Plymouth Voyager and the Dodge Caravan. The idea was to combine the
spaciousness and practicality of a cargo van with the driving
dynamics of a car. It could take sharp turns and
fit into a conventional garage. The generous interior space was made
possible by the front wheel drive powertrain on
Chrysler’s K platform. The van went on sale in January of
1984 and by the middle of the month, Chrysler’s truck sales were
already soaring 160 percent over the same period in
the previous year. Dodge Caravan. One vehicle that takes the place
of an economy car, sporty car station wagon and Van Dodge
Caravan is a transportation revolution. Other automakers rushed to
get in on the action. Toyota repurposed one of its
vans for the U.S. market and Detroit competitors Ford
and General Motors released their own smaller vans in
the years that followed. To lure away customers, for better
or worse, the minivan became a kind of cultural icon, a symbol of
the suburbs in much the same way the station wagon had once
epitomized American family life. It really became the replacement for
the station wagon and for what family is. You know, prior to that, took
as a you know, as a vehicle of choice for a rather, they were
moving around the city and doing sporting events or what have
you to take vacations. So it quickly became the
vehicle of choice for families. Minivans grew from about 4 percent of
new car sales in the early 1990s to a peak of around
7 percent in the early 2000s. But they fell from there. And automakers who once scrambled to
catch up to Chrysler’s hit vehicle began dropping out
of the race. Car buyers today won’t see a single
sliding door on a car based vehicle from either Ford or GM. Besides Fiat Chrysler, the only
other automakers selling minivans to Americans are Asian manufacturers. Toyota has the Sienna. Honda sells the Odyssey. And Keya makes the Sedona in 2018. Fiat Chrysler led the segment. The Dodge Caravan sold 150 1927
units, up 21 percent from the previous year. The Chrysler Pacifica
held steady, selling one hundred eighteen thousand three hundred
twenty two units. Honda’s odyssey took third place with
about one hundred six thousand sales, a six percent increase
over the previous year. But both the Toyota, Sienna and
Kia Sedona dropped more than 20 percent in sales, selling roughly
88000 and 18000 units respectively. That whole view of the soccer
mom mobile are really affecting the image of the minivan. It became such an icon for families
that anyone that was starting a family, you know, who didn’t want to be
seen as as the you know, the stereotypical American family was
looking for something else. Enter the SUV in raw numbers. The true family car has for a
long time been the sport utility vehicle and its car like cousin. The crossover. Whereas the total
minivan segment accounted for only about 3 percent of new
vehicle sales in 2018. Compact, midsize and large SUV were
a combined 35 percent of the market. That same year. But these vehicles are not just
hurting minivan sales and they are arguably doing more damage to
other segments such as sedans, crossovers, SUV and pickup trucks make
up almost 70 percent of the car market today. They have been climbing in sales since
the early 2000s, just as the minivan was beginning to peak. So with the pendulum swinging
wildly towards sport utility vehicles. What kind of future
does the minivan have? Could there be a revival? Probably not. Say industry watchers, the
minivans problem is that it is often seen as unfashionable as
it is practical, and its practicality may be the
root of its problem. The boxy shape, the sliding door,
and the sometimes surprisingly high gas mileage might be useful, but
to many buyers they seem the automotive equivalent of
orthopedic shoes. Crossovers in sport utilities are
arguably less practical, but they convey sporty ness and a rugged
lifestyle many people aspire to. The SUV is winning because it
is seen as sportier, right? Even has word sport in
its name for SUV. But it doesn’t lend itself as much
to a people mover in the same manner, which kind of lets
you steer away from that. You know, say soccer mom use that
term, but the same time is really the default one that
everyone goes with. But it’s odd because
it’s the most practical. Other than a large truck, a minivan
is going to get you basically everything you need. However, there still
seems to be a large enough slice of minivan buyers that encourage a
few brands to stay in the game. In 2016, Chrysler unveiled its
Pacifica model, an update to the minivan it had pioneered
four decades earlier. It was a considerable change from
the town and country minivan that had come before it. Chrysler marketed
the Pacifica as a sleeker, more refined vehicle than its
predecessor and competitors. Customers can still opt for luxury
features such as leather seats and an appearance package that blacks
out the entire vehicle. Giving it an
almost intimidating look. Honda was the first to offer
a built in vacuum cleaner and competitors have followed suit. But despite these innovations, the mini
vans best chance at a future in the U.S. might be in fleets. Fleet sales for rentals, taxicabs
and ridesharing companies already make up a considerable
portion of sales. If we fast forward a little bit
further into the future and we start to get into it, Ptolemy and ride
sharing, you know, there are other good that can be an interesting play for
a box on a wheels kind of design. Or you can do a lot
with at interior, especially if you don’t have a driver and you’re using
that space, you know, rather its workspace, potentially a sleep space,
kitchen on wheels, party and wheels, whatever it might be. I think there’s a lot of
options that potentially could see that shape come back. Notably, Google’s autonomous driving
project, Whammo gave the Pacifica one of its biggest single
lifts in years when it ordered 62000 of the minivans for its
own planned fleet of self-driving vehicles. Ultimately, there is only so
much automakers can do to spruce up the humble haulers image,
change the minivan too much and it ceases to be a minivan. Instead, it becomes
just another crossover.

Paul Whisler

100 Comments

  1. Eveyone go donate to Andrew Yang. At Yang2020.com. let's get mmmmmmmm let's gooo, to the future and beyond. Let's get this man to the White House

  2. I think wagons are becoming cool again. Especially if it's a 6-cylinder or turbo charged. So if we give the minivan 10 years, it'll make a comeback.

  3. I have two mini-vans. They are a Godsent! Many big goals in my life were achieved because I owned mini-vans. Mini-vans rule!

  4. Don't put down the minivan! Just jack it up with bigger wheels, swing out doors, a Jeep symbol and it's up again.

  5. People don’t buy minivansa because:
    1. It’s a status symbol for a Karen
    2. Not a lot of millennials are starting a family
    3. It’s ugly and boring

  6. Pacifica is a nice modern minivan, But MANY MANY defects and recalls. Typical FCA garbage lol

  7. I own a minivan I could care less what people think I have 4 kids and SUVs dont have alot of leg room in the back I think about when my kids are teens

  8. I love my grand caravan. Practical, spacious. I love the sliding doors. Specially when all parking lots make their stalls so small.

  9. In Suriname the minivan is called Noah and it is like the telsa model 3 and it is know just the coolest car in Suriname

  10. We got rid of our Chrysler town and country (mechanical nightmare) for a Toyota Sienna. Reclining rear seats and a complete entertainment system is excellent. Power everything with heated/cooled seats. Also, Toyota quality. We don't have kids, but our extended family love riding in it almost as much as we do.

  11. I like the comfort and distance between passengers. No one is crowded in our Odyssey. Yeah, we may not look cool when we get out, but in the summer those auto sliding doors can vent out heat after my vans been parked for a few hours pretty well. Van dam the haters.

  12. Just a matter of time before the SUV becomes as stigmatizes as the Minivan or the Wagon that came before it. Personally, I will always be a wagon guy.

  13. I would get a minivan IF dodge/Chrysler brought back AWD. I only bought a crossover because I need AWD where I live.

  14. I have a minivan it's better than a sedan, it's roomy and about the same as an SUV except a minivan has a little more room, I don't see minivan ever fading away but I do think sedan is finished.

  15. Minivans are awesome. Sliding doors are awesome. I could care less what other people think. Mini Van life 🤘✌

  16. We bought the first Nissan Quest in 92, a 93 model. We got looks as that was a cutting edge look. In those days, I didn't buy loaded cars and would not take on anything more that $200 a month payments for more than 3 yrs. So my wife got hubcaps instead of alloy….I get reminded of it ever since which is particularly ironic since she now drives a 45K car (and I'm driving a pretty plain RAV4 with no complaints). That van provided ten years of pretty much trouble free driving; little oil leak that turned out to be something that plagued those 6 cylinder engines. Paid $18K I think. Raised three boys in it…lots of good times in that van.

  17. We want these minivans in Pakistan. 4th largest country. It's a Shame Americans Auto manufacturer's don't share TOT license rights, transfer of technology. And USA has sanctioned Pakistan Automobile sector.

  18. my family had ford windstar 20yrs ago. how i loved it-! i drive 19 odyssey now, still loving it.

  19. The minivan is the only vehicle where an adult can ride comfortably in the 3rd row.

  20. I don't think being a family person is a bad image to have, rather it's the notion that settling for a minivan means you've "given up" on having anything fun in exchange for being practical. So we all buy SUVs (myself included in my 2020 Ascent) that aren't quite as comfortable, but we can pretend we're eventually going to take them offroad. I do look forward to having a nice comfortable minivan being summoned to drive us around in the future!

  21. When kids grow up today they won't want to get SUVs I believe. I think trends go opposite to what parents drive. Kids grew up in the 70s they didn't want a wagon, kids grow up in the 90s dont want Van's, kids who grow up now won't want SUVs. I think wagons will make a comeback next

  22. I'm saving up for a Sienna SE nightshade van right now, just cause everyone thinks they're so "uncool." Grown folks drive what they want, unaffected by the opinion of others.🤷🏿‍♂️

    Aaannnddd…

    With all the options available on vans now, it's a common sense buy if most of us be real about our own lives. Concern about appearance but need practicality of a van? Its tons of "sporty" looking vans on the market nowadays that you can hide in. You might have to pony up a few extra dollars but guaranteed you'll look unique. What soccer mom you know rolling in a murked out van sitting on 19, 20 inch rims?! That is not reason why they buy a van for. Lol.
    #ImDatCoolDad

  23. The rise of the SUV is a testament to the strength of marketing. Feeding the cool-aid to the masses. It's like "fashion" …. fickle.

  24. I live in suburbia, and the second it became known that I was pregnant, everyone was asking me when I was going to get a minivan. Many of these people either already had one, or a crossover. I was confused. It was just one kid, why do I need such a vehicle? We went through several nice sedans, occasionally driving her in my 2 door, but I still did not understand, why did I need such a vehicle? When I go to my daughters school, everyone has a Pacifica, Odyssey, or some crossover/SUV. Trucks are super popular, but they seem to be the masculine answer, since SUVs are now soccer mom mobiles. Again, I just have one kid. If I had two, guess what, four doors, four seats. Decline of the minivan? How about the decline of the car. So few people drive them now, it makes no sense!

    Practicality – When my daughter was younger, I had no problem at all loading her, and the full sized stroller in any of the sedans we owned. In fact, I think it took us maybe five seconds for the stroller, and five seconds for her. Why does it take people twenty minutes?!? Are they breastfeeding in there?!?

  25. Maybe if Lee Iacocca coined the term sport utility vans instead of minivan history would be different.

  26. It’s a death trap. If you rear end anything, your body takes the brunt.

  27. I hated having to get a minivan but once I got it I LOVED it. It makes life with three kids so much easier

  28. My family had a ‘98 Plymouth Grand Voyager. It was a great car. We had it for 12 years. Never really failed us expect when the fuel pump went out, but we had it fixed soon. When we finally got rid of it it had 367k. It was ugly as all get out, but damn could we haul some stuff.

  29. Mini vans or cheaper for big families who need a big car but cant spend much mainly

  30. Well we are starting to see the crossover suv/minivan. The 7 seater SUV with a foldable 3rd row, some even have captain middle chairs, nothing screams mini vans, just it now looks “Cooler” because it’s in a more off-road package, you know to combat the rugged terrain of suburbia.

  31. I understood the SUV craze back when they were on truck platforms. The front wheel drive SUVs that we have now are basically just minivans. They just don't have the sliding doors.

  32. I grew up with a minivan, i don't particularly like minivans however if i were to have more than two kids id sure as hell buy one, it makes sense practically. Two or less kids get a stationwagon/ hatch if theyre still available when i want one -_-

  33. Get some minivans with 4×4, rear wheel drive, and aftermarket rocker panels…and a V8….and I don't care what anyone thinks

  34. This won't change my mind, proud owner of a minivan – it's still a lifestyle van for family trips, weekend activities and business jet during the week. Kia Grand Sedona.

  35. WHEN gas is back to $4 a gallon in the US, all those SUVs the old 'Yuppies' are buying up like idiots now, will be worth nothing, and everyone will be trading them in screaming for small cars, and mini-vans with high mileage again. Europe has small vans/trucks…'petrol' costs a fortune there….so they STAY with smaller vehicles. Hey if you can afford a Jag. you can afford to put fuel in it. But in the USA, WE hated $4 a gallon gas….people have very short memories. Those SUVs will be worth nothing when they go to trade them in….on the new $50K mini-vans!

  36. I had a 1993 Dodge Grand Caravan and want another one if anyone knows where there is one.

  37. Minivans are great, after traveling with a company which employed 6 200-300lbs men to a crew, we rented minivans and they fit all of us plus all our luggage in the stow and go areas, and we all had from to spare and were comfortable. I was convinced then, now I have a small family with 1 kid however we got a minivan. It is so practical! Tons of storage, spacious seating. It also almost replaced my truck too, lay the seats down and you have a covered bed of a truck. If needed lay a tarp in and you can move sand or anything like it. With the seats down I have fit a wheel chair with out needed to break it down. Love minivans and we are always planning to keep buying them, having at least one of our vehicles a minivan. As others have said, it is how much a person cares about their image. If they want to be ‘cool’ go for the suv and suffer the discomforts that are solved with a minivan. Once they finally can admit to themselves that they would really prefer practicality over headaches, multiple trips or anything else that comes up. They will get a minivan and finally be happy and stress free. It amazes me what people are willing to sacrifice for image.

  38. Minivans are for guys and gals with cohones large enough to stake out their own course in life, the "dont give a sh*t crowd. In the snowflake corner we have the Cuv, and for those with alot to prove, we have the bro-dozer, "compensator edition". The actual Suv's goes to the soccer mom's, who have no idea how to engage 4wdLow if they ever got stuck in the mud at the mall, and for those that constantly need to point out their superiority in small, rather than big matters, we have the luxu-sedans.

    Then you have those other people, who drive a minivan for its practicality, a sportscar for fun, a motorcycle for the adrenaline rush, a fast sedan for business, a rental truck for towing, who loves all their vehicles equally, and wonder why the world is so narrowminded that one get considered and treated completely differently, based on the vehicle choice of the day.

    If a date cant stand being picked up in a minivan, she can walk home.

  39. Come to Philippines, my friend. We have new Toyota Hi Ace that looks like minivan. We still have many Asian minivans such as Toyota Alphard, Honda Odeyssy, Kia Carnival, Hyundai Starex, Chinese made MPVs which are still considered as minivan

  40. Its so sad how everyone is a follower instead of being them selves. SUVs will never be as good as a minivan. I own a minivan and I would never get rid of it for a SUV which I see and found not to be as functional as a minivan.

  41. A video about the fall of the minivan without mentioning the impact of the chicken tax AND NAFTA? Sigh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tax

  42. Never make a decision based on what some else thinks. Those are wise people

  43. How many clips of kids in soccer uniforms getting out of minivans do they have?

  44. SUVs? No one wants SUVs anymore. It's all Teslas, Pick Ups, and the "sporty" Jeeps . Nowadays even the crossover SUVs look like minivans. (Yes, I'm looking at you too, Lexus and BMW. Hell, you could even add Bentley, Jaguar, and Mercedes to that list.)

  45. Different in my country, minivan is symbol of luxurious like a Toyota Alphard

  46. Ugh I hate crossovers… They're not good at anything. Not good on road, off road, or transporting

  47. I was a professional commercial photographer for 30 years. Whenever I did location photo gigs, I would always rent a Dodge Caravan, unless I really had to go off road (which was rare) A much more practical vehicle than an SUV. You haul a lot of gear and can load from sides and back, they are comfortable and get decent milage. Cool is defined by the owner/driver, not the vehicle. My personal car is a VW Sportwagon. I love it, and could give a rat's ass what you think. Sheep buy SUV's and crossovers.

  48. Lack of four wheel drive is the main reason I went with an SUV instead of the m/v.

  49. Sick of crossovers, so I guess between the two, the minivan is at least genuine.

  50. I think i've seen that before. Same as with iphone.
    Mini vans before? Nope. Minivans. Totally different.
    'Murica strted the revolution.

  51. Iacocca did not leave Ford motor company to take over Chrysler. He was FIRED from Ford motor company. There was a leadership dispute too lengthy to discuss here. So when Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy, it just so happened that Iacocca was available. So he took on the challenge and successfully turned the company around. Until Daimler took over in the late 1990's and put them back into bankruptcy once again. They fired their American engineers and replaced them with their own. Chrysler was not their own company anymore.

  52. I don't have kids but it has so many other uses than to just haul a big family. I believe pickup trucks have a place in society, but most people that buy one, would actually be better off with something like this and a small trailer. My girlfriend and I also use my mini van to sleep in on weekend getaways, and for all my camping gear. It's one of the most practical vehicles out there

  53. OK…. let's be clear… Mini-vans: suburban/soccer moms/traditional families/practical…. perceived as "boring ". Almost the same as the P.C. description of White people. Does anyone see a pattern here?

  54. I own a 2018 Honda odyssey, I love it! It isn't perfect, but it does everything I need it to do. I can take my family everywhere, plus haul stuff as i need too. It's a very practical vehicle. I don't care what people think about me driving it, I am the one who loves it.

  55. Well the way rent prices are increasing….most people will be living in their vans.

  56. As a father of 3 children the minivan is the best family car ever.
    So much space for passengers and luggage.

  57. Here I am, reading through the comments about minivans instead of sleeping. Time to climb out of the rabbit hole.

  58. I’m a teenager and I drive a minivan that has racing stripes and auxiliary lights, I’m the coolest person at school. This entire “boring” argument is dumb.

  59. Simple: majority of the mini van owners are super grown now and going through their midlife crises. Bright yellow Camaro anyone 😂😂
    I have about 15 years before i get mine lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *