DETROIT -- General Motors and Ford Motor Co. do many things well, but selling minivans is not one of them.
Even new product doesn't help. Ford's Freestar arrived in the 2004 model year, and the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6 and Saturn Relay are new for the 2005 season. But the new minivans haven't moved the needle on the sales chart.
On the other half of the "what's hot, what's not" game is the Chrysler Town & Country, which has vaulted to second place this year in minivan sales behind the Dodge Caravan. The new Honda Odyssey also is strong, and the Toyota Sienna is still riding high after a 50.8 percent sales gain in 2004.
The Sienna outsold both Ford and GM minivans last year, and the Odyssey beat Ford and was only 2,931 units behind all of GM.
Those four nameplates, Caravan, Town & Country, Odyssey and Sienna, account for 66.0 percent of minivan sales. There are 16 minivan nameplates.
GM sold more than 300,000 minivans a year from 1997 to 2000. But its sales have fallen off a cliff since then. Last year's count was 157,169. Ford peaked at 384,746 in 1995. Its descent since then has been steady and painful - to 120,979 in 2004. Chrysler's biggest year was 1996, when it sold 538,807 minivans. It sold 386,664 last year.