Family Vehicles Not Selling

Familycars

With almost every automaker seeing sales dip in April, most readers won’t be surprised by the headline above. Even so, certain segments of cars did see significant sales increases in April, especially economy cars. Even a number of luxury brands faired well. Some companies, like Subaru, had a record month.

One group that was hit hard, however, was family vehicles, and I’m not talking about big, truck-based SUVs. Minivans and three-row crossovers saw huge drops. The numbers below illustrate just how much families are tightening their belts in these uncertain economic times.

Minivans

  • Chrysler’s recently redesigned Town & Country minivan was hit hard. Despite generally positive reviews, sales dropped 32% in April. Year to date, sales are down 14%. Even if Chrysler has reduced fleet sales (which they don’t break out in the data we see) that number is too significant to be offset.
  • Dodge’s Caravan, a sister vehicle to the T&C, was down 37% for April and 37% for the year.
  • Hyundai’s Entourage minivan — a sister vehicle of the Kia Sedona — only sold 500 copies in April, down a whopping 81.5%. The Sedona, on the other hand, saw a strong uptick of 21.9%.
  • Surprisingly, the Chevy Uplander also saw a gain — 14.3% for April. The Uplander is the lone remaining minivan in GM’s lineup after the company abandoned the body style for more three-row crossovers. However, the fleet sales effect could be impacting its numbers.
  • Toyota’s Sienna minivan was down 19%* for the month.
  • Nissan’s Quest, which has never been exceptionally popular, was down 34.2%* for the month.


Three-Row Crossovers

  • GMC’s popular Acadia saw a hit in April of 15.8%*. It debuted in early 2007, so this is one of the first months when a year-to-year number could be judged apples-to-apples.
  • Saturn’s Outlook saw a more severe drop of 33.8%*. GM’s Buick Enclave wasn’t on sale in April 2007, so there’s nothing to compare its 2008 numbers with.
  • Ford’s three-row Taurus X — formerly known as the Freestyle — was also redesigned a year ago and has seen dismal sales. Sales dropped 53.8% in April from 2007. For the year, it’s down 33.6%. That’s significantly worse than the truck-based Expedition, which was down a still-substantial 35% for the month and 27.1% for the year. 
  • Even Toyota’s popular Highlander was down 8.7%* in April, though it shows a positive 4.7% increase for the year.
  • Mazda bucked the trend a bit with its CX-9 crossover, which saw a 24.8% bump in sales for April.

*Number adjusted for more selling days in April 2008 versus April 2007. Unadjusted numbers will appear more positive.

By David Thomas | May 2, 2008 | Comments (13)

Comments 

Rob

With cars lasting so much longer these days, people are going to be holding on to them a lot longer, especially when you're talking about something as utilitarian as a minivan. Lots of families will keep their old Caravan for the weekends and get a Corolla for their daily driver.

Amuro Ray

I would say that it's essentially brainless to conclude that gas $$$ + economy dowturn have a huge effect on these sales, especially on minivans.

Think 'bou it - NONE of the minivans we see nowadays use 4-cyl engine, but big, thirsty V6 for hp gain (whether it has deactivation on cyl or not). Morever, the fire sales of vehicles, esp on minivans, several yr. ago will have this effect that, when it come times to think of "trade-in," the original vehicle has essentially no value, and the new ones now cost so much more (both due to price increase, but a significant different if comparing fire sales price to today's price with incentives). With the economy going south, there's really no add'l incentives to buy another gas guzzling vehicle and pay so much more for it, when the new ones can do essentially the same thing as the old ones. Same definitely applies to SUV/CUV of big engines. I know that the Nissan Rouge has done well, but I wonder if that's the case also for RAV4 (non-v6) and CRV...

These numbers are not surprising. The days of the large vehicle are pretty much over. Gas prices will likely stay around the $4 mark or higher. We have a 2002 Sienna that we'll likely keep until it dies (which could be a while). Bought it for reliability and needed it for the many trips we've taken with the kids. When we replace it we'll likey go with something very economical - hybrid or, maybe by then, electric.

RAV4 sales are down 17% from last year. Honda hasn't released April numbers yet.

AR,
I have to say you're wrong there. We've seen a huge change in the sales of these vehicles in the past 4-6 months with this month being particularly bad for these cars. This hasn't been a gradual decline over years which your theory would suggest.

Same for economy cars which have seen a HUGE uptick in the same time period.

All the small CUVs have held up well and that is an increasing segment but some say that is at the expense of both midsize sedans and larger truck based SUVs.

Gotta take issue with the sales drop for the Outlook and Acadia. It likely has little to do with any market shift but instead is a result of a pair of UAW strikes that have shut down production for the past 2-3 weeks. Can't sell what you can't build, y'know.

starlightmica

Mazda5 sales were up 66% over April 2007, to 2,011. That's a rounding error compared to some of the other vehicles listed above, though.

The Mazda5 is also a smaller car but yes I could've added it and the Rondo to the positive side or families going smaller. Good point.

Shadrach ,
you're dead-wrong. 2-3 weeks of strikes can't do any damage to 3 month worth of overstocking of GM trucks and SUVs.
I have GMC dealer near my house. they have dosens of Acadias all the time. I drive by them every day. Strike it or not.

Dave T,
Mazda5 is nice car...
But this is where it ends for the family.
Rondo would be much better choicev but its resale value tells you: "keep me long time".
Mazda 5 is not serious for family. I would rather get Accord.

Shadrach,
Acadia had 57 days supply on April 1
Outlook had 101 days supply
Enclave had 40

And usually the companies ramp up production in advance of strikes. Another few weeks and we'll see if there's an issue.

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DL

i have to agree with AR in that minivans are losing their advantages over SUV's little by little.

they are getting a lot more expensive

it's hard to find a real 7-passenger with a 4-cyl anymore (our old Voyager, RIP, made the same mpg as my Mazda6, both 4-cyl)

they have become overall significantly more frumpy looking (did companies give up using a design team for them and just threw mechanical parts in an ugly box?). i remember that the Caravan of the late 90's had decent styling for the time, when it came out.

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