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Minivan sales slow, hit by gas prices and image

DETROIT (AP) -- Asked recently how the U.S. minivan market has been faring, Nissan's Dominique Thormann had a concise answer.

"It collapsed," said Thormann, a senior vice president of Nissan North America.

While the rapid decline in pickup and sport utility sales has been grabbing the headlines, minivan sales have also taken a tumble, falling 20 percent in the first five months of this year.

And unlike trucks, which could rebound once the construction industry picks up, it's unclear if minivans have a future in the U.S. market or if they're being killed off by crossovers and the stodgy taint of the soccer mom image.

"The future of the segment is up in the air," said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for the Power Information Network, a division of J.D. Power and Associates. Libby said the advantages of minivans -- the sliding doors and height -- has been eroded by the negative image of minivans and consumer preference for SUV-like styling.

The slump reflects what's going on in the wider U.S. market. Overall auto sales were down 8 percent through May, and big vehicles like minivans took the brunt of it because of high gas prices. Large pickup truck sales fell 21 percent, while large SUVs were down 32 percent.

It doesn't help that families -- minivans' target audience -- have been particularly impacted by rising gas and food prices, falling home values and more difficulty in borrowing money, said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst for the Waltham, Mass.-based consulting company Global Insight.

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080606/auto_sales_minivans.html?.v=8
 

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"And unlike trucks, which could rebound once the construction industry picks up, it's unclear if minivans have a future in the U.S. market or if they're being killed off by crossovers and the stodgy taint of the soccer mom image."

Which is completely ironic considering the image as moved over to SUVs and CUVs.

What, are we going to change family vehicles all the time because it reminds us of soccer moms or because they tell people that you have kids? *sigh*

Why is it even shameful to have kids in the first place? I don't understand America.

I can only hope for MPVs to pick up once they join the portfolios of mainstream brands.
 

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Granted the in town mileage is not the greatest in our MPV, (18-19) but we have knocked down 26+ while traveling if you keep the speed under 65.
 

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People are dumb to reject minivans out of some subjective feeling of shame for driving a car that identifies them as an adult with kids and other responsibilities. The mileage complaints are bogus too, especially when compared to a truck or SUV. My wife's Odyssey returned 23 mpg during a 400 mile trip to AL a couple of weeks ago at 80+ mph on the Interstates and 65+ mph on the four lane country roads with the A/C going full blast to combat the heat and humidity. It's a mid- level model that doesn't include cylinder deactivation, so I can only imagine that the mileage on those would be even better. Inside it's as big as a Tahoe, if not bigger, can carry 8 adults in relative comfort if needed, and the DVD player keeps the munchkins quiet on long trips. In short, it can do 90% of everything that a full- size SUV can do and probably 98% of what a full- size SUV driven by your average soccer mom needs done while returning gas mileage that's 15- 20% better in either city or highway. The only thing I can think of off hand where an SUV might have an advantage over a minivan are 4WD (which most owners will probably never use or need) and towing capacity (which, again, many owners would never need.) All 4WD does for your average vehicle owner is add excess weight and lower your fuel economy for a feature that most people don't use enough to justify the added costs. As for towing, most people might need to tow a U-Haul trailer ONCE during the life of their automobile. A minivan would be able to handle that. Imagine how much gas we'd save as a nation if 50% of the people who now owned 4WD V-8 Tahoes, Expeditions, Durangos, and Grand Cherokees dumped them for 2WD V-6 minivans?

There. I said it. ALL HAIL THE LOWLY MINIVAN!
 

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Misleading #'s since Dodge replaced the SWB Caravan with the Journey. It is selling nearly as well as the full size van...yet isn't included in the stats since it has (gasp!) 4-doors.

Just silly I tell yah. ;)
 

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In short, it can do 90% of everything that a full- size SUV can do and probably 98% of what a full- size SUV driven by your average soccer mom needs done while returning gas mileage that's 15- 20% better in either city or highway.
so we can say 90-98% of SUV drivers are driving a dangerous, fuel-wasting vehicle needlessly?
 

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Been driving our Pontiac Montana since '99 ... been a good vehicle. Fantastic to move the kids around, plus I am able to haul lots of stuff in the back.

Just turned over 100,000 miles, though and is starting to show it's age. Wife and I decided it was time to look for a replacement.

Looked at the CUVs ... worse gas mileage, harder to get into and less interior space. Why are these things more popular than mini-vans?

Since GM doesn't have a minivan anymore (technically, Chevy still sells the venture, but it's largely unchanged from the '99 version I bought 10 years ago ... no longer competative.) I was forced to look at other brands. Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Honda. Threw the Nissan out pretty quick ... then Chrysler ... down to the Toyota and Honda. Both were very nice, but the Honda was what we selected. Fantastic vehicle ... leaps and bounds better than the Montana it is replacing.

This is the first time since 1973 (my Dad bought a Datsun pickup in '73 ... traded it away a year later) that my family has bought anything but a GM vehicle. I am GM faithfull through and through ... but I got to say, I love my new Odyssey. Shame on GM for abandoning the market.
 

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I would like to have kids. I would like to have three. I would buy a minivan.

There, I said it.

Though I would prefer a Mazda 5 or some other compact van like an S-Max that is not currently on our shores to a Sienna or Caravan. They look cool and handle better.:cool:

There, I said it - some vans are cool.
 

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The only advantage SUVs and some CUV's have over minivans has got to be towing.....do your homework and score the right van and you can get just as much utility & space......

I wonder what's more important to some people too.....'image' (of being driven around in/driving a vehicle lambasted as a 'mommy mobile' 10 years ago).....or economics (gas mileage ain't life-saving, but in this day and age, every extra dollar helps).....:rolleyes:
 

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Been driving our Pontiac Montana since '99 ... been a good vehicle. Fantastic to move the kids around, plus I am able to haul lots of stuff in the back.

Just turned over 100,000 miles, though and is starting to show it's age. Wife and I decided it was time to look for a replacement.

Looked at the CUVs ... worse gas mileage, harder to get into and less interior space. Why are these things more popular than mini-vans?

Since GM doesn't have a minivan anymore (technically, Chevy still sells the venture, but it's largely unchanged from the '99 version I bought 10 years ago ... no longer competative.) I was forced to look at other brands. Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Honda. Threw the Nissan out pretty quick ... then Chrysler ... down to the Toyota and Honda. Both were very nice, but the Honda was what we selected. Fantastic vehicle ... leaps and bounds better than the Montana it is replacing.

This is the first time since 1973 (my Dad bought a Datsun pickup in '73 ... traded it away a year later) that my family has bought anything but a GM vehicle. I am GM faithfull through and through ... but I got to say, I love my new Odyssey. Shame on GM for abandoning the market.
My situation as well - couldn't justify the extra cost of a lambda just to stay with GM, and the Odyssey was the best choice in a minivan. And the Uplander is fleet only, I believe - try finding one at a dealership.
As far as the unhipness of our van, its why Honda has big money on the hood - so I'm glad to be driving something as unhip as the Odyssey:D.
 

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There's also not much effort put out by the car manufacturers in the minivan segment. Chrysler and Hyundai seem to be the only parties really interested.

Though I have been seeing Sienna ads recently. How long has it been since the Sienna and Odyssey had a major refresh?
 
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