Dodge’s minivan must be some sort of motorized zombie. How else can you explain its ability to live on and on and on?
I’ve been writing about “the end” of the transcendent people mover since November 2016.
“A letter of understanding sent from Magna International to Unifor says its Integram Seating plant will cease delivery of the Caravan seating to FCA’s Windsor assembly plant in July 2019, likely marking the end of the minivan’s run,” I wrote on our website back then.
In May 2019, industry analyst Joe McCabe said FCA plans to replace the Grand Caravan with the entry-level Voyager, based on the Chrysler Pacifica. Even FCA Canada has said the Dodge Grand Caravan “will eventually go away.”
And now this: The “garageable van” might get its latest stay of execution from none other than U.S. President Donald Trump. He is hellbent on revoking California’s authority — granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s — to require automakers to build vehicles with tougher emissions standards than U.S. federal regulations. And that might breathe new life into the Grand Caravan.
That’s because come 2020, the Caravan won’t meet California standards, or the standards of other states that follow the Golden State.
Unifor officials tell me they hope Trump wins the battle over California’s ability to set its own standard, thereby allowing the minivan to be sold in America’s most populated state.
Imagine that, a Canadian union cheering on a conservative U.S. president.
Unifor strongly believes more product is needed — whether new, old or stale — to save the third shift at FCA’s Windsor, Ont., minivan plant. So, whether it’s a new crossover or the Dodge Grand Caravan matters little to the 6,000 people who work there, and the thousands more who supply the parts.
Even if FCA does kill the Caravan — at this point by way of a silver bullet or stake through the heart — the name itself might still live on.
I say that because Allpar, a website dedicated to all things Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is reporting — “according to sources within FCA Canada” — that the lower-priced Voyager, being built on the Pacifica platform, will be called the Grand Caravan in Canada.
“The Chrysler Voyager will initially only be available in the U.S. market, but will be available in Canada at a later date,” FCA Canada spokeswoman Lou An Gosselin said via email in October.
“While we’ve announced the the Dodge Grand Caravan is the minivan that will eventually go away, we’re not going into more detail at this time.”
Keeping the name in Canada makes sense. The Grand Caravan had always looked like the defunct higher-end Chrysler Town & Country. And it’s the country’s most popular minivan (thank the Canada Value Package for that). It had outsold the Pacifica seven-to-one through September, 22,216 to 3,122. So, it might still be here a while.