It seems like Ford and GM both made the same mistake--they brought a knife to a gun-fight, and got whacked by Honda and Toyota in the minivan segment. Both companies sold bland, underpowered, and unrefined vans, and must have made a conscious decision not to invest the money required to produce a world class product. Meanwhile, Toyota focused on quality and refinement, and Honda decided to make minivans a little sharper, and a lot quicker. Chrysler, the now (and future?) king of the segment, made sure to cover the market from cheap soccer wagons up to more elegant looking trim, and dropped some serious money on adding fold-in seats.
"We do believe it is a declining segment," GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told The News on Tuesday. "Our new crossovers, Acadia, Outlook and Enclave with their three rows of seats and economical V-6 engines, can meet the same customer needs, minus the 'Soccer Mom' stigma.."
There is nothing wrong with using crossovers (tall wagons, or unibody SUVs, or whatever) to fill the"mommy wagon" niche, there will always be a market here. However, CUVs are not minivans--they don't have sliding doors, as a rule, which creates a real problem for many customers, who need the convenience. Power sliding doors allow parents to juggle more stuff while they wrestle the baby out of the second row.
Maybe the minivan market is shrinking, but the abject failure of Ford and GM hinges not on changing fashions--they just chose not to compete.