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January 11, 2016

Detroit – Chrysler revives crossover nameplate for redesigned minivan

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Monday revealed its next-generation minivan, reviving the Pacifica nameplate, with a sleeker design and a plug-in hybrid model intended to appeal to a wave of young Americans having babies while reviving a product line that suffered a 30% sales slump last year.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Monday revealed its next-generation minivan, reviving the Pacifica nameplate, with a sleeker design and a plug-in hybrid model intended to appeal to a wave of young Americans having babies while reviving a product line that suffered a 30% sales slump last year.

Reuters said the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan – the nameplate was last used on a mid-sized crossover for model years 2004-2008, is targeting two main buying groups: the 75m or so millennials – born in the 1980s and 1990s – which are starting to form families, and baby boomers eager to haul around grandchildren. The US Census Bureau forecasts that by 2025, the United States will have 4m more children under 13 years old.

“Once families get to that second child they realise a minivan would be so much better” than an SUV (sport utility vehicle), Chrysler marketing executive Bruce Velisek told the news agency. A key selling point is the Pacifica will still have sliding side doors, the better to wrestle baby seats in and out.

Demographics rather than sex appeal have driven minivan demand since the first Chrysler minivans were launched in 1984, hitting the US baby boom generation – born between 1946 and 1964 – at its child-raising peak. The segment’s sales hit 1.8m vehicles in 2000, then fell as families opted for SUVs.

Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Kia sold just over 500,000 minivans in the United States last year.

“The pie is a lot smaller than it once was, but there are fewer (manufacturers) taking pieces of the pie,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive for research firm JD Power, told Reuters.

The Pacifica lineup will include Fiat Chrysler’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle in a high-volume model line. The plug-in Pacfica system can operate on batteries for about 30 miles (48km) and deliver the equivalent of 80 miles per gallon, the company said.

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