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DaimlerChrysler: spearheading the return of the minivan
Datamonitor Commentwire

The minivan concept is enjoying something of a renaissance, led by innovative new models from Japanese players. DaimlerChrysler is now successfully fighting back by equipping its minivan range with the 'Stow n Go' system, which suggests that this mature segment requires products with a more radical and stylish appeal if it is to continue regaining ground from SUVs.

As orders keep increasing, DaimlerChrysler is aiming to remain competitive in a segment where innovative seating has become a key factor. In 2000, minivans sold a record of 1.4 million units. Since then sales had been decreasing as they were overtaken by the more avant-garde SUVs. At present, improvements on new or redesigned minivan models are necessary to regain sales in the mature minivan segment. Unsurprisingly, Japanese manufacturers are leading the way back with models such as Honda's latest Odyssey variant and Toyota's Sienna LE.

By giving additional features such as 'Stow n Go', in keeping with consumers' desire for modern and fashionable vehicles, to its Chrysler and Dodge minivans, DaimlerChrysler's attention to detail has paid off. This new investment shows that US manufacturers are trying to regain the segment they initially pioneered. When Chrysler invented the minivan in 1983, the manufacturer struggled to retain consumer interest in those vehicles. Today Chrysler is betting on the 'Stow n Go' system, which it developed and patented for $221 million. If Chrysler sells its 2005 models at a reasonable price, the extended production is likely to be required to satisfy demand.

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It never occurred to me how deceptive this photo of the upcoming Chevy Uplander was at the time it was released:



then later:



That little black plastic dial is lame - it screams "I'm not integrated!". The fit between the cargo "boxes" and the lip of the cargo area was poor on the models at the auto show.

:(

Personally I would have preferred a sloping effect and a full integration of the cargo bins with the interior.

The 2nd row "captains chairs" should be fold forward like in the Rendezvous, to offer even more cargo area. As is, I think they only fold in "half".

Better than the Astro, though - the seats were either in your way, or sitting in the garage getting dirty.

A problem with all of these "fold away" designs is that you can't buy a rubber cargo mat for many of them -- this design would have the bins in the way of a cargo mat if you have the bins open and full of cargo like in the demos on Buick.com

And you can't have a rubber cargo mat go the full length of the fold down 2nd row seats either...

The best is the 8 passenger Express Van - you can have a huge rubber cargo mat area, and still have 2 rows behind the driver.

 

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The CSVs are extremely disappointing. On every level. I don't care how "pretty" the dashboard is. The CSVs fall behind the competition in virtually every category. Do we really need 4 different varieties? Bleah.

Long live the Chryslers!
 

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as much as i hate to say it (i hate Chrysler... ), the Chrysler minivans are the top of the heap. they are the best looking (for a minivan), the best equipped, the best driving, and are actually built quite well. the imports are going to draw people concerned about long term reliability, but i'd bet that most of those are Camry/Accord owners looking at vans. Chrysler has proven that it does build one good product, and they do last a long time, unlike some of their other products. my grandmother's 1990 model is still alive and kicking, and she loves it. Chrysler sucks in my opinion, but their minivans are the best ever, and they just keep making them even stronger. it's a very compelling choice.
 

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Working for a Pontiac dealer I can tell you we were excited to hear about the new van. Saw pictures of the dash, front seats. Then we found out it was on the same chassis and saw those great folding seats. This is the van they should have built back in the late 90's. Gm will not see any great sales increase with this "new" van. Maybe in 4 years they will get it right.
 

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"Part of the SUV styling of the CSVs was making sure that the seats and cargo bins were not truly fold flat or "disappearing" in nature. A system like the "stow and go" from DCX would have tipped off customers that the Uplander, Relay, Terraza, and SV6 are not in fact true SUVs. So we decided it would be best to offer a sort of compromise - Minivan underpinnings and tow capacity of a Venture, and SUV cargo versatility and fixed 2nd row seats like in a Trailblazer. This way we were able to get a combination of features no other Automaker has tried for - giving us our own niche in the market."

 

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But SUVs have NO "cargo versatility".
Most SUVs (especially those with 3 rows of seats) have absolutely no room for cargo. If you load up on people, you can't take stuff. If you load up on stuff, you can't take people.

I don't think 7 people could go on a week's vacation in an SUV with proper luggage, kid's strollers, etc...

A minivan that doesn't have the USAGE of a minivan is pointless.

You can fool some people into buying your product by packaging it in a fancy wrapper, but you anyone that is fooled is truely a fool.

Rereading your post, I see you were being totally sarcastic. So I agree with you Ming.
 

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Originally posted by Rex Raider@Jun 12 2004, 05:30 PM
Rereading your post, I see you were being totally sarcastic. So I agree with you Ming.
:lol: Yeah, I tried to make it sound like something a GM executive would say....it was hard to spin it positive! :lol:
 

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Recently, it occurred to me that GM's CSV's might actually come across SUV-like, despite my misgivings when I orginally laid eyes on them. I showed the Uplander to two [non-car enthusiast] friends of mine (I like to do my own informal market research from time to time), and both immediately commented in kind: "That's an ugly SUV!" I then informed them that the Uplander was actually a minivan, to which they responded in kind again: "Wow!... it's still ugly."

So, it appears that GM designers were able to fool a few people with these CSV's. Unfortunately, it appears they weren't able to pull it off entirely.

As mentioned before, these minivans will not sell in any greater numbers when they arrive. I'm hoping they represent the last cries of committee and "good enough" design at GM, though my practical side doubts it.

At least DCX appears serious about holding back the Japanese in this segment. Despite their not having received new skin, DCX's minivans will continue to do well. The Stow N' Go system is really quite clever. And the commercials for the Chysler Voyager do their job well, too.

Shame on you, GM, for another missed opportunity!
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Jun 12 2004, 10:02 PM
"Part of the SUV styling of the CSVs was making sure that the seats and cargo bins were not truly fold flat or "disappearing" in nature. A system like the "stow and go" from DCX would have tipped off customers that the Uplander, Relay, Terraza, and SV6 are not in fact true SUVs. So we decided it would be best to offer a sort of compromise - Minivan underpinnings and tow capacity of a Venture, and SUV cargo versatility and fixed 2nd row seats like in a Trailblazer. This way we were able to get a combination of features no other Automaker has tried for - giving us our own niche in the market."

That's what I call supple in combat.

Take a flaming disadvantage of your product, and turn it around to say that there's no way anyone would accept anything like that on ourinnovative new vehicle.

You gotta admire that kind of creative BSing.
 

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Do you know how much money that GM is throwing at the current U-Vans in incentives?

$15000. 00 in Canadian dollars (in rate support, residual support, free DVDs, lolatity bonuses etc)

This is insane! and now GM not unlike Ford have only half finnished thier vans, I mean Ford came out with a rear fold flat and what does DCX do? puts in 2 of them and now GM does a half a** job also.

DCX is the king of the mini van and it appears they will stay that way, the only one that seems to be watching them is Toyota, and this is a shame.
 

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Originally posted by Rex Raider@Jun 12 2004, 10:30 PM
But SUVs have NO "cargo versatility".
Most SUVs (especially those with 3 rows of seats) have absolutely no room for cargo. If you load up on people, you can't take stuff. If you load up on stuff, you can't take people.

I don't think 7 people could go on a week's vacation in an SUV with proper luggage, kid's strollers, etc...


I've owned three, and this is exactly the same situation with minivans. If you have all three rows of seats in place, there is very little room for cargo. Don't make it sound like you could put 7 people AND their luggage for a week in a minivan. You'd have to pile it high on the roof, just like a small to mid sized SUV. You'll get better mileage from a minivan for the same amount of space as an SUV, but that's the price you pay for towing capacity, used or unused.

Some SUV's have very little room behind the third row, but not all. I could take 7 or 8 people out for a week in mine and have enough room without putting anything on the roof.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Originally posted by MelvinJ+Jun 15 2004, 11:54 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (MelvinJ @ Jun 15 2004, 11:54 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Rex Raider@Jun 12 2004, 10:30 PM
But SUVs have NO "cargo versatility".
Most SUVs (especially those with 3 rows of seats) have absolutely no room for cargo.  If you load up on people, you can't take stuff.  If you load up on stuff, you can't take people.

I don't think 7 people could go on a week's vacation in an SUV with proper luggage, kid's strollers, etc...


I've owned three, and this is exactly the same situation with minivans. If you have all three rows of seats in place, there is very little room for cargo. Don't make it sound like you could put 7 people AND their luggage for a week in a minivan. You'd have to pile it high on the roof, just like a small to mid sized SUV. You'll get better mileage from a minivan for the same amount of space as an SUV, but that's the price you pay for towing capacity, used or unused.

Some SUV's have very little room behind the third row, but not all. I could take 7 or 8 people out for a week in mine and have enough room without putting anything on the roof. [/b][/quote]
For 7 people and tons of luggage, you need a GMC Savana 8-passenger 1500 van.

Gobs of cargo room (where the 12-passenger bench has been deleted), and seating comfortably for 6, tight for 8. This is the "regular length" full size van, not the extra long 15-passenger.

Hard to find them in that configuration at the dealership, though.

 

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Originally posted by Ming@Jun 15 2004, 06:47 PM
For 7 people and tons of luggage, you need a GMC Savana 8-passenger 1500 van.

Gobs of cargo room (where the 12-passenger bench has been deleted), and seating comfortably for 6, tight for 8. This is the "regular length" full size van, not the extra long 15-passenger.

Hard to find them in that configuration at the dealership, though.

Savanas/Expresses have a staggering amount of room in them, and the price is great too, even with AWD. I haven't driven one of GM's vans even since the redesign of '96, let alone the '03 or '04's, but just looking at them, I can't imagine that they would drive as well as the Suburban, which has a lower seating position, lower body, and I'm guessing a lower CG. Plus the vans have more frontal area to battle against the wind, so I bet highway mileage is a bit less.

I saw a new Express the other day with an aftermarket 4WD conversion and some beefy tires. It looked good.
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jun 15 2004, 02:27 PM
Savanas/Expresses have a staggering amount of room in them, and the price is great too, even with AWD. I haven't driven one of GM's vans even since the redesign of '96, let alone the '03 or '04's, but just looking at them, I can't imagine that they would drive as well as the Suburban, which has a lower seating position, lower body, and I'm guessing a lower CG. Plus the vans have more frontal area to battle against the wind, so I bet highway mileage is a bit less.

I saw a new Express the other day with an aftermarket 4WD conversion and some beefy tires. It looked good.
the body of the savana is closer to the ground, cutting wind resistance, as well there are fewer things on the side of the van jutting out into the wind, and the total frontal area isn't all that much different from a suburban. Not to mention that you don't need to order a V-8 on them, there are V-6's and diesels available.
 

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The cargo room (with all seats removed or without) to price ratio of the Express / Savana spanks the Suburban any day of the week. ;)

You can get conversion Savanas (last year's models, but still new) near me for 22,000 dollars. That's the price of a friggin Impala...!
 

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the body of the savana is closer to the ground, cutting wind resistance, as well there are fewer things on the side of the van jutting out into the wind, and the total frontal area isn't all that much different from a suburban. Not to mention that you don't need to order a V-8 on them, there are V-6's and diesels available. [/QUOTE]
There's no diesel in the vans since 2002, although they may put the Duramax in for 2006, but nothing is certain there. And there are absolutely no conditions I'd take the 4.3L V6 over the V8 since the V8 gets the same or in some cases, better mileage and has a huge power advantage. If you want AWD (and I would), you're only choice is the 5.3L V8.

I'm not sure how much lower the body of the vans sit to the ground. The Suburban lists about an inch and a half more ground clearance, but that's generally measured at one of the chassis pieces and not the body. The Express sits over 6 inches taller though, and a half an inch wider. That's bound to have an effect at higher speeds.

I'm not sure what the Suburban has sticking out of the sides that the Express doesn't, other than the running boards that are unfortunately standard now.
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jun 16 2004, 01:02 PM

There's no diesel in the vans since 2002, although they may put the Duramax in for 2006, but nothing is certain there.

And this REALLY confused me, I had a number of small wholesale food distributers that used nothing but G-Cutaways,they could run them for the same kind of $$$'s as a Magic Wagon. But then GM canned the diesels in G-Vans, and at the same time canned the 3500HD cab and chassis? Giving Ford the only trucks for the small and larger commercial fleets.

So you say that they replaced the 3500 HD with the 4500\5500 Kodiak-Topkick, but these are only from medium duty dealers and higher in price. The mid 90's GM went hard after the small fleets throwing money left and right and then when we were making headway , they deserted them?
 

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Originally posted by doh+Jun 16 2004, 01:28 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (doh @ Jun 16 2004, 01:28 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-MelvinJ@Jun 16 2004, 01:02 PM

There's no diesel in the vans since 2002, although they may put the Duramax in for 2006, but nothing is certain there. 

And this REALLY confused me, I had a number of small wholesale food distributers that used nothing but G-Cutaways,they could run them for the same kind of $$$'s as a Magic Wagon. But then GM canned the diesels in G-Vans, and at the same time canned the 3500HD cab and chassis? Giving Ford the only trucks for the small and larger commercial fleets.

So you say that they replaced the 3500 HD with the 4500\5500 Kodiak-Topkick, but these are only from medium duty dealers and higher in price. The mid 90's GM went hard after the small fleets throwing money left and right and then when we were making headway , they deserted them? [/b][/quote]
What's a Magic Wagon?
 
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