Next minivan to launch in 2015 as Chrysler Town and Country: Report

Chrysler minivans roll down the line at the Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ont., on May 26, 2011. (JASON KRYK/The Windsor Star)Chrysler minivans roll down the line at the Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ont., on May 26, 2011. (JASON KRYK/The Windsor Star)

The next generation minivan will wear a Chrysler Town and Country badge and be launched as a 2016 model, according to industry experts.

Production will begin in 2015 at the Windsor Assembly Plant, which will also assemble a new large, luxury Chrysler crossover utility vehicle the following year, said Haig Stoddard,  industry analyst at WardsAuto Information Products.  The CUV will be launched as a 2017 model, he added.

Stoddard said his conclusions stem from “industry sources” as well as   information in the WardsAuto/AutomotiveCompass Global Production Forecast.

Chrysler refused to comment Tuesday on its plans for the minivan. “We haven’t made any announcements about future products,” said LouAnn Gosselin, spokeswoman for Chrysler Canada.

Wards and AutomotiveCompass recently forged a partnership to produce and publish  global automotive tracking and forecast databases.

Stoddard said the new CUV would likely be similar to the Chrysler Pacifica, a luxury mid-size  crossover wagon assembled at the Windsor plant from  2003 to 2007.

“It might not necessarily be a luxury vehicle,” said Stoddard. “It would probably border, based on price, between a large CUV or large luxury CUV.  If the starting price is above $38,000 in today’s market it would be a large luxury.”

The closest vehicle in Chrysler’s current lineup would be the Dodge Durango SUV.

Such a vehicle would compete with  the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Acura MDX, Lincoln MKT and Infiniti JX, said Stoddard.

Currently, the Windsor Assembly Plant produces the Dodge Grand Caravan and higher-priced Chrysler Town and Country minivans on three full shifts. The plant employs more than 4,500 hourly workers who assemble about 1,500 vans a day.

Chrysler has not said publicly which of the two vans would be discontinued or when a new van would be launched. However, CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that the plant will get a new global platform, capable of producing a variety of vehicles, including a sedan as well as a small van for international export.

The two minivans continue to be key players in Chrysler’s portfolio, dominating segment sales in both Canada and the U.S.

The minivan segment in North America has been under pressure, primarily from growing sales of SUVs and crossover utility vehicles. Minivan sales peaked in the U.S.  at 1.4 million in 2000, but have fallen rapidly as buyers shifted to popular crossover wagons like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. U.S. minivan sales totalled 540,188 last year.

Marchionne has said he expects North American sales to stabilize anywhere between 500,000 and 700,000 units.

Other key players in the minivan segment include the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

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