Automotive Blog

Minivans - (still) hot or not?

My wife swears she'll never drive a minivan. Whereas, I have a teammate at Polk who takes every opportunity to boast about "how cool minivans are." Based on these two disparate points, I decided to conduct some research, using 1st quarter new vehicle registrations (January - March for a given year) as my guide, to determine if the minivan segment is still hot or not.

Minivan Share of Light Vehicle MarketBased on the 5-year trend of first quarter registrations below, the minivan market is losing ground with U.S. consumers. The segment has fallen 1.4 percentage points in share since 2007 to its current rate – 3.2% share of the light vehicle market.

It appears OEMs are aware of this trend as the number of minivan choices have dropped over 50% from 15 models in 2007 to 7 models in 2011.

The minivan segment is dominated by four models that represent 92% of the sales based on 1st quarter 2011 new vehicle registrations. This dominant group is led by the Honda Odyssey (32.6%), Toyota Sienna (25.7%), the Chrysler Town & Country (21.3%) and the Dodge Caravan (12.7%). The remaining 8% of the segment is represented by the following (in order by volume): Kia Sedona, Volkswagen Routan and the Nissan Quest.

Gone are the following family carriers of yesterday: Ford Freestar, Hyundai Entourage, Buick Terraza, Mazda MVP, Chevrolet Astro, Uplander and Venture, plus former offerings from Saturn, Mercury and Pontiac.

So when consumers leave a minivan, what do they buy next? To address this question, I used Polk's new Loyalty Analytic Tool and found that in 2010 over 40% of the defectors (defectors = had a minivan, went back to market and purchased something else) purchased either a midsize SUV (24%) or a compact SUV (15%). The SUV segment was closely followed by the midsize car (21%) and small car (16%).

My wife expressed a low cool factor and an overall lack of style for the minivan which is why she prefers an SUV.  Based on the decline in market share of minivans, the reduced number of available minivan models and the fact that my "Minivan Loving" teammate drives an SUV, it appears the minivan segment may no longer be "hot" in the eyes of the American consumer.

These are my findings and thoughts, I would love to hear your comments on the minivan segment or the blog overall.

Posted by Marc Bland, Product Strategist & Multicultural Marketing Lead, Polk (06.06.2011)

About The Author

Marc 'Bland' is a walking-contradiction of his name since he is indeed a lively and interesting individual. He has a sixth sense when it comes to seeing opportunities where others cannot and making things happen. Marc currently serves as Polk's Head of Diversity & Inclusion. He enjoys the people he works with both inside and outside of the company. When he's not being passionate about his customers' needs, he enjoys fishing, classic cars and home improvement projects. Marc's inspiration in life has been his own hard-working parents as well as his wife and four children – three girls and one boy. Another addition to his family is a 5 lb., 18 inch African Bullfrog named "Puff Daddy" that he enjoys feeding. Someday Marc would love to promote national jazz concerts and fix and flip homes.

During his 10+ years at Polk, Marc has worked in several capacities as a Systems Engineer in the Information Technology group, a Project Manager in Product Development/Quality, a Solutions Consultant in Sales, Manager of the Analytical Solutions team and most recently in a dual role of Product Strategist and Multicultural Marketing Lead. Marc's broad knowledge across the Polk organization, combined with his brief but exciting international automotive assignments in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Thailand and Singapore, have provided him with invaluable insight and perspective on all things automotive. He lives by the motto, "Learn, Apply & Share" and enjoys contributing to Polk's blog.


Name: K-Man S
Time: Monday, June 6, 2011

A couple of comments. First, Have manufacturers cut models available because sales have declined or have sales declined because manufacturers chose on their own to cut models and focus elsewhere. I've witnessed first hand how Porsche Cayman sales have gone down in the last 2 years but it wasn't for lack of consumer demand, it was for lack of vehicles, as Porsche chose to try to move would be buyers into the more profitable cars like the Panamera, Cayenne or even the 911. I don't know how much profit there is in minivans, although with an Odyssey pushing well into the 40's now I have to believe "some", but perhaps some of the minivan decline has been the fact that there are simply fewer choices. Second, where are the hybrid minivans? or at least new technologies? Even the latest Honda and Toyota vans have DVD players instead of BluRay players. Did Honda and Toyota not take a look at DVD sales in the last 2 years? (plummeted). I, for one, don't like having to buy 2 copies of a movie for the kids, one for the BluRay player in the house, and another older DVD for the car/van. Vans also don't seem to have improved their fuel economy or weight savings, but instead have gotten heavier, larger (can you really call them mini-vans anymore?) and less efficient. Last, but not least I think most people would agree that a minivan is easier to get in and out of for the kids, and to haul stuff with vs. an SUV, but those requirements tend to be when children are at their youngest. We really needed a minivan when the kids were 1 and 4, now that they are 4 and 7 they don't have a problem getting in and out of an SUV. It might be interesting to see what birth rates have been in the down economy. Since the economy tanked in 2008 if birth rates are down in the US then perhaps there is less need for a vehicle for those early years of childhood, hence also less of a demand for minivans. I guess what I'm saying is that the answer is probably a combination of complex factors. I just wish Porsche or Jaguar or BMW would make a sporty minivan. :)

Name: Max
Time: Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sales of these models in the period between January and May 2011 were virtually unchanged over the same period of 2010.

You notice the new Chrysler Town & Country that the selling price higher than the other models is dropped in favor of toyota sienna running from a base price of $ 5000 less.

Chrysler in something does not work ..

Name: Marc Bland
Time: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

K-Man S,
Thanks for reading the Polk Blog.
I believe the reduction in Mini-van models is due to both manufacturers reducing models available because sales have declined and minivans sales declining because manufacturers chose on their own to cut models and focus elsewhere. I truly appreciate your very detail comments and look forward to future feedback from you on the blog.

Name: Marc Bland
Time: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thanks for reading the Polk Blog and for sharing the comment above.

Name: Ken
Time: Friday, June 14, 2013

Don't think an SUV comes near the convenience that my 2013 Chrysler T/C gives me, Love the looks of it, especially inside. It has fold in the floor second and third row seats which lets you haul just about anything and a lot more than you can get in an SUV.Try putting a piece of drywall in an SUV. Both sliding doors and the rear hatch open with a click of the key fob. which is great when carrying something. You sit up high enough off the ground you can see quite nice. Nothing better taking long trips. You can fold one second and third row weat oand put down an air mattress and one person can sleep while another drives. When all the seats are up, Chrysler gives you gobs of hidden storage room. Chrysler mini vans offer so much more, one has to wonder why anyone would ever want to buy an SUV

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