Ford is to abandon the US minivan market by axing its Oakville, Ontario-built Freestar model and boosting output of two new crossover vehicles built there instead.

Ford temporarily halted Freestar output last November to launch the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover wagons.

But the automaker has now decided not to resume Freestar production, Bloomberg News reported, citing Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari.

“Demand for minivans has really decreased while crossover demand has gone up,” Gattari reportedly said, adding: “Once we saw what demand for Edge and MKX was, it was the right business decision not to resume production.”

Bloomberg noted that Ford’s minivan sales have lagged behind those at Chrysler, Toyota and Honda – to the end of November 2006 Ford sold 49,241 Freestars, about a quarter as many as Chrysler’s Dodge Caravan, the top-selling US minivan. An earlier Automotive News report said there were still about 2,500 Freestar units in dealer stock left to sell.

In contrast to Ford, Chrysler is set to launch fully redesigned 2008 versions of its minivan line at the Detroit motor show next week. The Chrysler minivans are also widely exported.