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Minivans set the pace ahead of cars, trucks
July 8, 2004
SARAH A. WEBSTER
DETROIT FREE PRESS

The Mommy-mobile was the surprise sales story of the second quarter -- minivans surged 11.6 percent compared with the same period a year ago, while overall sales of new cars and trucks were up less than a percent.

Overall vehicle sales started off sluggish in April, leaving automakers with an inventory glut at the end of the month. Incentives were boosted in May to move the metal, and sales sizzled.

However, June ended on a disappointing note, with sales down 2 percent and another surplus of new cars and trucks on showroom floors. So expect automakers to announce another round of consumer incentive programs to spark summer sales.

"We deem the quarter as highly volatile and mixed," concluded Gerald Marks, an auto analyst with Raymond James & Associates Inc.

Despite the monthly sales roller-coaster ride, minivans plowed through the April-June period. They made double-digit sales gains during each month, appealing to grandparents nearly as much as parents, experts said.

Perhaps rising gas prices, which topped $2 a gallon in the quarter before moderating, struck a practical chord in consumers.

Maybe the negative publicity surrounding SUVs, which have been criticized as gas-hogs prone to deadly rollovers, finally took its toll. Year-over-year sales of SUVs, which includes station wagons disguised as utility vehicles, were up a scant 1 percent in the second quarter, compared with a 14.2-percent year-over-year gain in the first three months.

Or, most likely, a stable of redesigned minivans convinced Americans that family vehicles can be cool after all.

Every major player except General Motors Corp., which unveils four new minivans in the fourth quarter of the year, recorded a gain in minivan sales during the second quarter. Asian automakers gained the most minivan sales, especially Nissan, with its new Quest, and Toyota, with its new Sienna.

Domestic automakers with new minivans on the market had a less stellar performance.


Full Story Here

 

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... <_<
 

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It still took a ton of incentives to move them. Just like anything else, increase the incentives and the people will buy them. Everyone loves a deal.
 

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maybe this is a sign that people are realizing that a minivan has more utility than an SUV. perhaps the stigma of driving a minivan is wearing off and being replaced by a true need for something with more capacity, and is more useful overall. if i truly needed the capacity, i'd certainly choose a minivan over an SUV. they're just way more practical. besides, the fuel mileage is better, and they're easier to get into and out of. if you need the capacity and towing, Chevy still sells the best compromise, the Astro. actually, the Astro doesn't even look so much like a typical soccer mom minivan. it's also the only one out there with a real truck frame and a decent towing capacity. there should be more like it, but then again it doesn't really sell so well.... it's too bad. it's truly a good mix of both worlds.
 

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I think it'll take more than one month's worth of sales before you can make any sort of relevant statement regarding the decline of the SUV/rise of the minivan. When the minivan sales were soft the rest of the rear, was everyone saying minivans were dying?? Maybe they were. And now they say they're taking over. Whatever.
 

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Yeah, everyone driving the Chevy disAstro, that's all we need. Minivans will never overcome SUVs because people realized that they are fat, ugly, boring, and weak while SUVs have style, power, and function especially if you want to go off-road or tow something substantial. But above all, SUVs do not have that un-cool, screaming kid-hauling, "I watch ***** Eye for the Straight Guy" stigma that minivans have and will NEVER get rid of. And, of all the minivans out there, the Astro, and similar vans (Econoline etc.), happen to have this stigma the least simply because they are so boring and utilitarian, but that doesn't make them something to celebrate, unless you're a Borg or something. No, this sales surge doesn't mean a whole lot in the long run as minivans will eventually be crushed into oblivion between SUVs and new crossover/wagon type vehicles (Magnum, Freestyle, etc.) before long, and rightfully so.
 

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Originally posted by Buick61@Jul 10 2004, 02:22 PM
I think it'll take more than one month's worth of sales before you can make any sort of relevant statement regarding the decline of the SUV/rise of the minivan...
Agreed.

However, I do think GM should have served up more than the next generation CSV's to defend its position in the minivan market. Contracting or expanding, the minivan market in the USA is still a million-unit market.
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Jul 9 2004, 11:45 PM
Every major player except General Motors Corp., which unveils four new minivans in the fourth quarter of the year, recorded a gain in minivan sales during the second quarter.
GM has never been competitive with a minivan. The new truck-like noses being grafted on this fall won't fool anybody, either. These vehicles will move with large incentives and to those with access to employee discounts.

GM needs to get serious with a new minivan platform. It always seems to lag behind the competition with minivan features. The minivan market is still huge and warrants a greater investment and attention by GM.

GM must be innovative and break away from the minivan pack. Offer some unique minivan features such as external storage bins (Nissan Titan), standard trailer hitch receiver (Trailblazer), 110v outlets (Vibe/Matrix), maybe a standard Thule-compatible roof rack. How about plastic rollers in the floor to aid in the loading of drywall or plywood, etc. Come on GM, with all the engineering talent you have on the payroll, I would expect a GM minivan to be loaded with innovation.
 

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I had always been in the "I'll never drive a minivan" camp until I actually had to buy a people mover for our family. We had a need for a vehicle to transport 7 people comfortably. For transporting people (kids) there is no comparison between a minivan and SUV. The minivans typically have much more usable space in the interior, it is easier to move between the rows of seats (especially with the doors closed) due to the center aisle, the automatic opening doors and fold-away seats are very convienent, and performance isn't as bad as many believe.

SUVs may have a lot of power, but they are also burdened by a lot of weight. I also found handling, especially sharp corners, to be much better in minivans than SUVs. Look at some of the 0-60 specs for large people movers: Honda Odyssey - 7.9s, Toyota Sienna - 7.8s, Ford Expedition - 9.6s, Toyota Sequoia - 9.3s. Sure there are slower minivans like the GM bunch that take 10.2s, but minivans don't have to be slow. I think the main reason minivans get such a bad rap for performance is that a lot of people that drive them seem to be anti-performance drivers. I'll almost never get behind a minivan at a stop light even if a Yugo is in the adjacent lane.

Yeah, minivans are not as good for hauling trailers or going off-road, but I don't think that 90% of SUV owners do either. Bottom line, when looking for a practical and fun to drive vehicle, I found the minivans to beat out the SUVs. But each to their own.
 
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