With the Dodge Grand Caravan’s current generation coming to an end, FCA needs to work out its minivan strategy soon for the Chrysler Pacifica’s and its builders’ sake.
The Dodge Caravan started a segment and although the minivan category is losing ground and market share, FCA still owns it. The current Grand Caravan is so old our memory doesn’t go that far back. Even so, it’s still a best-seller, and at the very least, crushes the Chrysler Pacifica assembled on the same line. Something needs to happen soon if FCA hopes to keep its position and sell minivans.
Grand Caravan sales plummeted by 30% in Canada in 2018 while Pacifica numbers stayed flat. The Dodge did outsell the Chrysler 5 to 1. So far in 2019, Grand Caravan numbers have dropped more or less the same amount while the Pacifica in more than 50% behind its 2018 numbers. US results are nearly as bleak but the volume is considerably greater. This downward trend is unlikely to shift and this is where the Windsor On. Plant’s future seems uncertain.
First however, the Chrysler Pacifica/Dodge Grand Caravan duality needs to be addressed. Essentially, the Dodge is from the paleolithic era while very few people care for the Pacifica. In a news story by Automotive News Canada, an interviewee says something about FCA replacing the Grand Caravan with a Pacifica-based vehicle and calling it Voyager. This is all kinds of wrong.
Primo: FCA cannot drop the Grand Caravan name. It is synonymous with the minivan and if FCA is to sell a minivan, it needs to keep the name. Think how stupid Ford looked when they dropped the Taurus name…
Duo: If a Pacifica-based vehicle is to be introduced, it should keep the Pacifica name. Very few consumers care or know about the Pacifica, with about an equal number of them remembering that the original Pacifica was an SUV. Forget about Voyager.
Trio: Rumours that FCA was toying with introducing AWD to the minivan need to come true. If pricing can be kept on a reasonable scale, they should follow Toyota’s scheme and offer it as an option on all trims, from the most basic version.
The bottom line should be this: FCA builds a new Dodge Grand Caravan using the current Pacifica minivan (drop the PHEV iteration, plan on an EV), and morph the Pacifica into a luxury SUV which will share components with the next Dodge Durango. No doubt the new Dodge Caravan will sell as well or better. And! The new Pacifica SUV will handily crush the Pacifica minivan’s sales. This way, Windsor stays in business.
If anyone at FCA needs me, feel free to drop me a line.