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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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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"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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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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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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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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
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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