Is the minivan making a US comeback? - Just Auto
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Is the minivan making a US comeback?

By Graeme Roberts 09 Aug 2021 (Last Updated August 9th, 2021 12:19)

Sales surged in the second quarter.

Is the minivan making a US comeback?

The minivan is becoming more popular again in the US, according to Cox Automotive.

During the second quarter of 2021, minivan sales grew by 84%. While nearly every new-car segment showed gains in Q2 2021 versus the prior dismal Q2 2020, few high-volume segments grew at the same rapid pace as minivans – a remarkable feat considering the segment now consists of just five model lines in the United States (two Chrysler vans, a Honda, a Kia and a Toyota).

This year has created the perfect storm for minivans to make a comeback Cox said.

During the first half of 2021, manufacturers sold 167,496 new minivans, which helped inch market share from 1.9% to 2.0% between Q1 and Q2, according to Cox.

Minivans themselves, introduced in the early 1980s, displaced the six or nine-passenger ‘station wagon’ and were eventually derided as ‘soccer mom’ (or dad) vehicles with zero street cachet until they in turn were displaced by the 2000s SUV boom.

The incremental increase was significant because minivans gained the 0.1% market share that full-size SUVs lost during that same time period, demonstrating a shift away from the family-car-as-SUV back toward minivans once again.

During the second quarter of 2021, minivan sales grew by 84%.

Without the ongoing major effect of a global microchip shortage on new car production, Americans probably would have purchased even more minivans. Supply impacts were evident when looking at sales numbers of minivan models in Q1 compared to Q2, as dealers increasingly struggled to keep stock on their lots.

The gains in demand alongside limited supply boosted prices accordingly, with the average transaction price of a minivan in July 2021 at a record US$43,033, higher than any other segment last month.

“Minivans are extremely popular right now – after decades of being in the shadow of SUVs as the cool family-car of choice, the van is back,” said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.

“Trends are cyclical, and the minivan is following suit. Minivans have just the right combination of retro, uniqueness and absolute practicality. Plus, today’s minivans are way more luxurious than previous generations. While there are limited options available in terms of both model choices and available inventory on dealer lots, all-new minivans and recently redesigned favourites have refreshed the segment and caught the eye of the car-buying public.

“We also have anecdotal evidence that points toward families being more eager to hit the open road after being cooped up for so much of the last year-plus, and there is no better family road-trip-mobile than a minivan.”

While there is a limited range of new minivan models available, the segment remains relevant because of its rich focus on family-friendly features. Toyota’s recently redesigned Sienna switched to an all-hybrid lineup that delivers great fuel-economy.

Chrysler’s Pacifica has SUV-like styling and optional all-wheel drive.

The redesigned Kia Carnival offers an ultra-luxurious interior and high-fashion styling.

The ever popular, long running Honda Odyssey has flexible interior features, and the budget-friendly Chrysler Voyager rounds out the list.

Just Auto analysis of Q2 and H1 2021 sales showed crossovers and sport-utility vehicles claimed the largest share of new vehicle deliveries, nearly 52% of the total in both Q2 and the first half. Passenger cars had a slightly larger share this year than they did in 2020. Minivans also had a small gain as deliveries of the Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival offset the end of the Dodge Caravan.