Honda aiming high with its 2011 Odyssey minivan

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 10, 2010

Honda’s latest minivan named the Odyssey arrives at a time when the segment may be on the verge of collapse. But instead of cowering, Honda went all out in creating the Odyssey.

John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co. executive vice president, said that this model is “not your ordinary kid or cargo hauler.” The Odyssey is currently the top seller in the minivan segment.

However, the combined sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are higher. Actually, the segment began struggling even before the recession. US minivan sales reached the million-a-year mark in 1993 and its peak was in 2000 at 1.37 million.

Sales began dropping then and in 2008, automakers sold a little more than 600,000. Last year, it sold fewer than 450,000 units. Mendel is optimistic that by 2014, the segment will post sales of about 650,000 units but he isn’t expecting more.

Mendel explained that the recession didn’t cause the slump. He thinks that social trends will boost the growth in the segment. The Odyssey used to sell 150,000 units each year, with a peak of 177,919 in 2006.

The Odyssey’s new annual target is a conservative one at 110,000. Odyssey chief engineer Art St. Cyr is anticipating that the segment will soon improve.

He estimates that Gen X and Gen Y families exceed the number of baby boomers, the demographic that once fueled the original minivan boom. He thinks that with Gen X and Gen Y now moving on to raise families, this might make them realize the value of minivans. [via autonews - sub. required]

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