The minivan could be on the verge of a comeback, but the chip shortage has helped make it the rarest find on dealer lots

Chrysler Pacifica
The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica.

  • Minivans are now the hardest vehicles to find on auto dealers’ lots, industry data show.
  • The global chip shortage has interrupted production of the leading model, Chrysler’s Pacifica.
  • Updated designs from Toyota and Kia are hard to find, and customers are paying full sticker price.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As it did with squishy Crocs and baggy pants, the pandemic has seemingly revived consumers’ affection for the comfort and practicality of the minivan.

“The minivan is back,” Pat Ryan, the CEO of personalized car-shopping service CoPilot, told Insider.

The erstwhile chariot of the suburbs is now the most difficult category of vehicle to track down on dealers’ lots, with the lowest inventory supply, according to Cox Automotive research.

Cox figures show dealers have less than 20 days worth of minivans to sell – in other words, if all new vehicles stopped arriving, the supply would be gone in less than three weeks. The national average for new cars is 30 days’ supply.

“There’s only so many people who make them,” Ryan said.

Only three automakers rolled out new minivan models in 2021: Toyota, Kia, and segment leader Chrysler.

But Chrysler’s production has been plagued with challenges as a result of the global computer-chip shortage that has caused its Windsor, Ontario, factory to shut down several times this year for weeks at a time.

Combined with the bulletproof popularity of Toyota’s Sienna and the launch of Kia’s SUV-like Carnival, the drop in Chrysler’s once-robust supply has made new minivans unusually rare.

In normal times, minivans made up a little more than 2% of the total automotive market in the US, down from a high of almost 7% back in 2005.

The segment still has its loyalists, though, and they are paying top-dollar for their sliding doors, captains’ chairs, and plywood-hauling capacity.

Cox data showed new minivans selling for 99.5% of sticker price, and Ryan told Insider that for used vehicles, sale prices were up 19% and days supply was down by half since the start of the year.

“Dealers are thirsting for inventory, there’s no question about it,” he said.

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