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Nissan Reveals First Pics of 2011 Quest Minivan

It faces tough competition from Honda, Toyota – and Chrysler.

by on Jul.07, 2010

A first look at the 2011 Nissan Quest.

Nissan has taken the wraps off it’s next-generation Quest minivan, showing the automaker plans to take another shot at a segment it has long struggled to find a place in – and which a number of key competitors have already abandoned.

The 2011 Nissan Quest significantly ups the level of style in a segment where functionality is normally the touchstone for designers and engineers.  The maker went on a similar, er, quest, when it launched the last version in 2004.

That was arguably the most stylish offering of its time, but the last-generation Quest was faulted for some fundamental flaws, notably including  a third-row seat that didn’t feature a 60/40 split and thinly padded second-row seats which many found uncomfortable.

Whether the 2011 Nissan Quest will resolve those and other issues related to features, function and comfort remains to be seen.

Quest sales have lagged behind industry leaders notably Chrysler, whose Town & Country and Dodge Caravan models have regained ground since the maker’s 2009 bankruptcy – and which now control nearly half the U.S. minivan market.

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(Click Here for more on Chrysler’s resurgence in the minivan market.)

But the 2011 Nissan Quest will go up against some tough Asian competition, as well.  And both the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna vans will go through complete makeovers for the coming model-year.  Toyota will retain the focus on functionality, while Honda, like Nissan, is hoping that a little more sporty touches to the Odyssey will draw in those who disdain classic soccer-mom shapes.

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Chrysler Increasing Its Minivan Lead

But competitors taking aim with new products.

by on Jul.07, 2010

Chrysler's minivans, including the Town & Country, have been regaining market share.

With no domestic competitors to worry about anymore, Chrysler has been firming up its hold on the market segment it created, more than a quarter-century ago; but increasing competition from foreign makers threatens to loosen its grip on the minivan market.

In its early years, Chrysler held nearly 100% of the people mover segment, and even into the 1990s, it regularly outsold all its competitors combined, though that dominance slipped in the new millennium.  But for the first half of 2010 Chrysler is back on top again – overwhelmingly.

“The last year, the question was whether there’d be someone around to service your car,” says Joe Phillippi, chief analyst with AutoTrends Consulting, referring to Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy.  “Once you knew they’d be around, people regained confidence in the brand.”

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For the first six months of the year, the maker’s Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan models collectively accounted for 49.1% of the segment.  That’s up nearly 10 full points from the same period a year ago, when Chrysler’s minivan share sank to 39.2%.  And it only bounced to 42.2% for the full year.  But industry analysts warn that the smallest of the Detroit automakers shouldn’t expect to rest on its laurels while it focuses on reviving the rest of its struggling line-up.

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Toyota Launches 2011 Sienna Production

Taking aim at Chrysler, Honda with all-new minivan.

by on Jan.20, 2010

With the launch of U.S. production, the 2011 Toyota Sienna is taking aim at the minivan's segment leaders, Chrysler and Hona.

Production of the all-new 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan has begun at the automaker’s assembly plant, in Princeton, Indiana.  Unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, last November, and garnering strongly favorable reviews since then, the new minivan is taking aim at the people mover segment’s two top performers, Honda and Chrysler.

Hoping to gain a better grip on the American market, Sienna was styled at Toyota’s Calty Design Research Center in Newport Beach, Calif., with engineering duties handed over to the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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Production of the new Sienna — as well as that of the Highlander SUV, which began last October – comes as welcome news for the Indiana plant, which has been underutilized during the current economic downturn.

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