US: GM axes new minivans for crossovers
General Motors reportedly has axed plans to develop a new minivan line as it focuses on the growing crossover segment.
The Associated Press (AP) said in a report on Wednesday night that, though GM sells its current minivans under various brands, sales are falling and the vehicles are scheduled to be phased out by around 2008.
The company had been working on a plan to launch a completely redesigned series of minivans in 2009 that would have shared an architecture with new full-size crossover SUVs that are just now hitting the market, AP added.
"We've determined that we will not develop a minivan off our large front-wheel drive architecture," GM spokesman Chris Pruess told the news agency, adding that the company's new crossovers, which are based on car-like platforms but are designed to look like SUVs, will directly compete with the shrinking minivan segment. He reportedly said there are already three credible players in the minivan segment and the company has decided to allocate capital in other areas.
Citing Ward's Automotive Reports, AP noted that the Chrysler group, Toyota and Honda collectively have 54% of the US minivan market, with Chrysler's models taking 29% alone. US minivan segment sales are off 10% in 2006, while crossover sales are up 9%, the report added.
AP noted that Ford recently made a similar decision while Volkswagen plans to enter the market using models built on its behalf by Chrysler.
According to the report, Nissan Motor chief executive Carlos Ghosn said last week the company is very open to such an arrangement in the United States with a US auto maker.