Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • The minivan is a vehicle that too many screams domesticity.

  • It calls to mind images of suburbs, family life and youth soccer

  • teams. For much of its history, it has been praised for its

  • practicality and yet maligned as so deeply uncool.

  • Even Kevin Hart had something to say about the minivan in his comedy

  • special. I'm a grown little man.

  • If your husband or your boyfriend drives a minivan.

  • Leave him alone.

  • Any man a jobs, a minivan does not care about life.

  • But the minivan once helped save Chrysler from total ruin in the

  • 1980s. The unveiling of the first Chrysler minivans in 1984 is still

  • considered a landmark moment in the history of the automotive

  • industry. But the minivan is now relegated to a small portion of the

  • automotive market, despite seeming like the sum of everything.

  • Most people want in a car.

  • If you were to look at it from said automakers point of view, a

  • product planning point of view, you would ask consumers, what do you

  • want? And they would give you a list of things like roomy, spacious

  • cargo, good fuel economy, and even sliding doors might come up in

  • that. And what would it be?

  • It would be a minivan, but nobody wants to buy one because they all

  • want SUV is now. It's such an image problem.

  • But my God, the moment someone drives on to say, wow, this is really

  • practical, I really like it.

  • Meanwhile, buyers scoop up sport utility vehicles and crossovers at

  • an increasing rate. And automakers are faced with the choice of

  • whether they ought to keep selling these multipurpose vehicles or

  • throw in the towel in favor of more popular and more profitable

  • models.

  • The origins of the minivan are.

  • Believe it or not, the subject of sometimes fierce debate.

  • Some would say the first minivan was the Volkswagen bus, which the

  • German automaker began selling in the 1960s.

  • Others may point to even earlier examples such as the Stout Scarab, a

  • car from the 1930s.

  • But the minivan, as customers typically know it, is traced back to

  • the 1984 model year when Chrysler rolled out its Dodge Caravan and

  • Plymouth Voyager models.

  • The story is that Lee Iacocca, who had previously been famous for

  • shepherding the Ford Mustang into existence, had left Ford for

  • Chrysler in the early 1980s.

  • At the time, Chrysler was struggling just a few years earlier.

  • Congress approved the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act of 1979, securing

  • one point five billion dollars for the automaker.

  • Chrysler needed a hit and it got one under Iacocca is leadership.

  • Chrysler developed the K car platform, a kind of simple skeleton

  • which the company used as the base for a wide range of cars.

  • This is common practice in the auto industry.

  • But this particular platform was so adaptable it allowed Chrysler to

  • simplify product development and cut costs to an unprecedented

  • degree. It was a major turn for the company, and its first minivans

  • were one of the many vehicles Chrysler built on this platform.

  • Coca had been part of a team at Ford that had been working on a small

  • family van concept to compete with station wagons, which were quite

  • popular at that time.

  • When Iacocca decamped to Chrysler, he took the idea of the minivan

  • with him and the caravan and Voyager models were released soon after.

  • This is one of the most important new concepts in American family

  • motoring to come along in decades.

  • The Chrysler Corporation's new T wagon, the Plymouth Voyager and the

  • Dodge Caravan.

  • The idea was to combine the spaciousness and practicality of a cargo

  • van with the driving dynamics of a car.

  • It could take sharp turns and fit into a conventional garage.

  • The generous interior space was made possible by the front wheel

  • drive powertrain on Chrysler's K platform.

  • The van went on sale in January of 1984 and by the middle of the

  • month, Chrysler's truck sales were already soaring 160 percent over

  • the same period in the previous year.

  • Dodge Caravan.

  • One vehicle that takes the place of an economy car, sporty car

  • station wagon and Van Dodge Caravan is a transportation

  • revolution. Other automakers rushed to get in on the action.

  • Toyota repurposed one of its vans for the U.S.

  • market and Detroit competitors Ford and General Motors released their

  • own smaller vans in the years that followed.

  • To lure away customers, for better or worse, the minivan became a

  • kind of cultural icon, a symbol of the suburbs in much the same way

  • the station wagon had once epitomized American family life.

  • It really became the replacement for the station wagon and for what

  • family is. You know, prior to that, took as a you know, as a vehicle

  • of choice for a rather, they were moving around the city and doing

  • sporting events or what have you to take vacations.

  • So it quickly became the vehicle of choice for families.

  • Minivans grew from about 4 percent of new car sales in the early

  • 1990s to a peak of around 7 percent in the early 2000s.

  • But they fell from there.

  • And automakers who once scrambled to catch up to Chrysler's hit

  • vehicle began dropping out of the race.

  • Car buyers today won't see a single sliding door on a car based

  • vehicle from either Ford or GM.

  • Besides Fiat Chrysler, the only other automakers selling minivans to

  • Americans are Asian manufacturers.

  • Toyota has the Sienna.

  • Honda sells the Odyssey.

  • And Keya makes the Sedona in 2018.

  • Fiat Chrysler led the segment.

  • The Dodge Caravan sold 150 1927 units, up 21 percent from the

  • previous year. The Chrysler Pacifica held steady, selling one hundred

  • eighteen thousand three hundred twenty two units.

  • Honda's odyssey took third place with about one hundred six thousand

  • sales, a six percent increase over the previous year.

  • But both the Toyota, Sienna and Kia Sedona dropped more than 20

  • percent in sales, selling roughly 88000 and 18000 units respectively.

  • That whole view of the soccer mom mobile are really affecting the

  • image of the minivan.

  • It became such an icon for families that anyone that was starting a

  • family, you know, who didn't want to be seen as as the you know, the

  • stereotypical American family was looking for something else.

  • Enter the SUV in raw numbers.

  • The true family car has for a long time been the sport utility

  • vehicle and its car like cousin.

  • The crossover. Whereas the total minivan segment accounted for only

  • about 3 percent of new vehicle sales in 2018.

  • Compact, midsize and large SUV were a combined 35 percent of the

  • market. That same year.

  • But these vehicles are not just hurting minivan sales and they are

  • arguably doing more damage to other segments such as sedans,

  • crossovers, SUV and pickup trucks make up almost 70 percent of the

  • car market today.

  • They have been climbing in sales since the early 2000s, just as the

  • minivan was beginning to peak.

  • So with the pendulum swinging wildly towards sport utility vehicles.

  • What kind of future does the minivan have?

  • Could there be a revival?

  • Probably not. Say industry watchers, the minivans problem is that it

  • is often seen as unfashionable as it is practical, and its

  • practicality may be the root of its problem.

  • The boxy shape, the sliding door, and the sometimes surprisingly high

  • gas mileage might be useful, but to many buyers they seem the

  • automotive equivalent of orthopedic shoes.

  • Crossovers in sport utilities are arguably less practical, but they

  • convey sporty ness and a rugged lifestyle many people aspire to.

  • The SUV is winning because it is seen as sportier, right?

  • Even has word sport in its name for SUV.

  • But it doesn't lend itself as much to a people mover in the same

  • manner, which kind of lets you steer away from that.

  • You know, say soccer mom use that term, but the same time is really

  • the default one that everyone goes with.

  • But it's odd because it's the most practical.

  • Other than a large truck, a minivan is going to get you basically

  • everything you need. However, there still seems to be a large enough

  • slice of minivan buyers that encourage a few brands to stay in the

  • game. In 2016, Chrysler unveiled its Pacifica model, an update to the

  • minivan it had pioneered four decades earlier.

  • It was a considerable change from the town and country minivan that

  • had come before it. Chrysler marketed the Pacifica as a sleeker, more

  • refined vehicle than its predecessor and competitors.

  • Customers can still opt for luxury features such as leather seats and

  • an appearance package that blacks out the entire vehicle.

  • Giving it an almost intimidating look.

  • Honda was the first to offer a built in vacuum cleaner and

  • competitors have followed suit.

  • But despite these innovations, the mini vans best chance at a future

  • in the U.S. might be in fleets.

  • Fleet sales for rentals, taxicabs and ridesharing companies already

  • make up a considerable portion of sales.

  • If we fast forward a little bit further into the future and we start

  • to get into it, Ptolemy and ride sharing, you know, there are other

  • good that can be an interesting play for a box on a wheels kind of

  • design. Or you can do a lot with at interior, especially if you don't

  • have a driver and you're using that space, you know, rather its

  • workspace, potentially a sleep space, kitchen on wheels, party and

  • wheels, whatever it might be.

  • I think there's a lot of options that potentially could see that

  • shape come back.

  • Notably, Google's autonomous driving project, Whammo gave the

  • Pacifica one of its biggest single lifts in years when it ordered

  • 62000 of the minivans for its own planned fleet of self-driving

  • vehicles. Ultimately, there is only so much automakers can do to

  • spruce up the humble haulers image, change the minivan too much and

  • it ceases to be a minivan.

  • Instead, it becomes just another crossover.

The minivan is a vehicle that too many screams domesticity.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 US vehicle caravan suv percent dodge wagon

The Fall Of The Minivan

  • 6 1
    joey joey posted on 2021/04/25
Video vocabulary