DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler will keep the Dodge Grand Caravan around a little longer than planned as it continues to ramp up sales of the old minivan's more expensive new line mate, the Chrysler Pacifica.
At the Detroit auto show last week, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said production of the Grand Caravan probably would not end this year. It had been scheduled for phaseout Aug. 11, supplier sources say.
Sales of the cheaper Dodge were up 26 percent in 2016, even as the automaker sold down the former Chrysler Town & Country and rolled out its replacement, the redesigned Pacifica. Though technologically inferior to the Pacifica, the Dodge minivan starts at $24,590 in the U.S., vs. $29,590 for the base Pacifica. Both prices include shipping.
"When we shut production of the Grand Caravan is not clear to us yet. But I agree ... that we need to look at the [price] range, and to offer some level of affordable access to the Pacifica at the lower end to try and replace the outgoing models," Marchionne said.
"I keep on reminding everybody here that we had the most accessible minivan in the world in the Grand Caravan, and that's a position that we may end up losing. But life goes on. The Grand Caravan has got limitations. It's a very old architecture," he said.
Marchionne warned that the price increase between Pacifica and the models it replaced will be repeated as FCA continues to redesign its fleet.
"This is going to happen with every architecture that we launch, because the level of technology that's in these cars is, by definition, more costly," Marchionne said.