2011 Chrysler Town & CountryEnlarge Photo
The last time you could walk into a Chrysler dealership and drive out in a minivan equipped with all-wheel drive was 2003. In 2004, AWD was discontinued on Chrysler minivans to make room for Stow ‘n Go folding seats, which increased the minivans’ functionality as a cargo hauler.
Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne recently presented a brief overview of future product plans, and Chrysler’s minivan product line looks due for a substantial update.
In Marchionne’s words, “This platform better have more capability than the one we have, including all-wheel drive capability and the ability to get narrower.” Marchionne is clearly thinking about a global platform, since narrower minivans would be essential for success in the European market.
Chrysler’s CEO also said that the automaker would continue to build what he dubbed a “classic minivan,” as well as a “people carrier that is still taking shape.” Additionally, Chrysler is said to be working on a "lifestyle pickup" similar to the Honda Ridgeline.
A refreshed line of minivans wasn’t originally on the table before 2014, but Marchionne may be accelerating the timeline for launch of the next generation of product. Citing the need to stay competitive, Marchionne confirmed that expediting a new minivan design is now a priority.
His timing may link to the contract between Volkswagen and Chrysler, since Chrysler’s deal to build VW’s Routan minivan expires at the end of the 2013 model year. A global product with more capabilities may retain the VW business for Chrysler, or it may be a tactic to increase sales to offset the loss of VW’s business.