The Chrysler Town & Country may be able to wrestle the top sales crown away from the Honda Odyssey as it is on pace to hit sales of 102,495 units in the final month of the 2010. Since 1983 when its first magic wagon was built, Chrysler has dominated the minivan segment so it would be a source of pride for the company to reclaim the top spot.
In December 2010, sales of the Honda Odyssey totaled 98,035 units. This model had led the field during the last two years. Other rivals include the Toyota Sienna (89,509 sales year-to-date) and the Dodge Grand Caravan at 89,057. Minivans were prioritized by Chrysler throughout its history.
When Daimler AG acquired Chrysler in 1998, it scrapped plans to produce a Mercedes minivan. When CEO Sergio Marchionne was appointed to the position, he sought to restore a third shift of minivan production at the Windsor plan in anticipation of rising sales. Olivier Francois, head of the Chrysler brand, said that its goal is to become the leader once again.
In fact, the brand has set out to “regain what once belonged to [it]." Aaron Bragman, an analyst with IHS Automotive in Northville, said that the reason why Chrysler was beaten by the competition is related to quality issues.
Francois agrees with Bragman, saying that the brand had to fix perceived quality and handling. Under Marchionne’s direction, 2011 minivan models received major upgrades. They will be arriving in higher numbers in showrooms in 2011.
Chrysler had considered operating the Windsor plant even on the Christmas holidays to boost its output but it had junked the plan when it was determined that some of the suppliers will not work during this period. Chrysler has informed the Canadian Auto Workers union that the plant may work overtime for two Saturdays of each month in all of 2011. [via Detroit News]