America’s Minivan Segment on Track for Worst Year Since 2009 – the Depths of the Recession

Eight years ago, American consumers, businesses, and governments acquired only 10.4 million new vehicles.

Sound like a lot? The U.S. auto industry generated an average of 16 million new vehicle sales in the five years leading up to 2009; 16.3 million annually over the last half-decade.

With the overall market’s collapse, it’s not surprising to hear that very few minivans were sold. Claiming only 4.3 percent of the industry’s volume, minivans collected only 448,000 sales.

At the current rate of decline through 2017’s first seven months, this year won’t be quite that bad. But it’s on track to be almost that bad, and the worst year since.

Despite the insertion into the segment of a new Honda Odyssey this summer, July 2017 minivan sales nevertheless slid 23 percent, year-over-year. The Odyssey joined July’s top-selling Toyota Sienna, the year-to-date leading Dodge Grand Caravan, the plunging Kia Sedona, and a trio of discontinued nameplates in reporting fewer sales in July 2017 than in July 2016. On the whole, even with a 5-percent Chrysler Pacifica uptick, the segment lost more than 11,000 sales.

The good news for the remaining five nameplates is the quintet’s 100-percent market share. Rewind to 2009 and those five minivan brands owned 86 percent of the market. Collectively, they’re on pace to end this year 5-percent higher than in 2009.

But what an awful measuring stick. 2009 was the worst year for U.S. auto sales in decades.

Minivan
July 2017
July 2016
% Change
2017 YTD
2016 YTD
% Change

Toyota Sienna
11,100
11,734
-5.4%
67,258
79,959
-15.9%

Honda Odyssey
10,134
11,228
-9.7%
58,290
75,889
-23.2%

Chrysler Pacifica
8,288
7,898
4.9%
67,886
18,941
258%

Dodge Grand Caravan
7,503
10,071
-25.5%
87,370
83,981
4.0%

Kia Sedona
1,710
5,037
-66.1%
16,738
29,157
-42.6%

Chrysler Town & Country
26
3,324
-99.2%
528
55,134
-99.0%

Nissan Quest
12
712
-98.3%
4,933
9,519
-48.2%

Mazda 5
2
17
-88.2%
9
346
-97.4%

Total
38,775
50,021
-22.5%
303,012
352,926
-14.1%

In 2017, with the aging Toyota Sienna losing 16 percent of its volume, year-over-year, the leading minivan seller (FCA) down 1 percent, the new Odyssey’s slow start and consequent 23-percent year-to-date drop, the Kia Sedona’s 43-percent dive, and the disappearance of niche products from Nissan and Mazda, U.S. minivan market share is down from 4.9 percent a decade ago (and 3.8 percent a half-decade ago) to just 3.1 percent.

For perspective, the Ford F-Series owns 5.1 percent of the market, up from 4.5 percent five years ago and 3.9 percent a decade ago. Subarus now outsell minivans by a 19-percent margin. A decade ago minivans outsold Subaru by more than 3-to-1.

Will there be recovery by the end of 2017, spurred by improved inventory of the new 2018 Odyssey, or will Americans truly purchase and lease fewer than 480,000 minivans in 2017? Further incentivization would obviously help.

According to J.D. Power retail sales data, minivans left dealers in July at an average transaction price of $33,300, boosted by a $3,439 average per-vehicle discount. That incentive level was 14-percent below the industry average.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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