Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne now has to decide whether to merge two remaining minivans into one and whether to treat either or both of them to a dramatic redesign. Chrysler’s top position in the minivan market is not threatened in any way even after nearly 30 years that the minivan was presented. Marchionne’s job now is to find the best way to remain successful.
Marchionne, who is seeking to merge Chrysler with majority owner Fiat SpA, has done a good job so far. But he says that whatever decision is made, he and the dealers are committed to Chrysler's signature product.
Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Austintown, Ohio, said that as long as Chrysler is “King Kong” in the minivan segment, it wouldn’t matter if the market shrinks. He is confident that the minivan isn’t going away ever.
Only four years after a government bailout in 1979, the Dodge Caravan was presented by Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Lee Iacocca. Minivans quickly became known as one of the company's most important product lines, along with Ram pickups and Jeep SUVs.
Chrysler credits the minivan for saving the company at some point. Chrysler continues to be the minivan leader and has one of the longest runs on top of a vehicle segment in the U.S. Ford Motor Co.'s F-Series line has been the leader in 35 years.
Due to the minivan’s dominance, it became a symbol of Chrysler. Alexander Edwards, president of the automotive practice at San Diego-based Strategic Vision, a marketing and branding company, said that people immediately think of minivan when Chrysler is mentioned. He added that Chrysler is widely recognized as the minivan’s “creator.” [source: Bloomberg]