Chrysler Group LLC, which has led the U.S. minivan market since introducing the first model almost 30 years ago, is adding a higher-end version of the Town & Country as the automaker considers its future in the segment.
The 2013 Town & Country S, equipped with a Blu-ray DVD player as a standard feature, arrives in dealerships by June and will sell for a $2,000 premium to the base model, said Bruce Velisek, the head of the Chrysler brand marketing. Chrysler unveils the minivan this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and its majority owner Fiat SpA (F), has said he’s evaluating whether the U.S. automaker needs both the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. The U.S. minivan segment shrank to 3.7 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales last year from 7.9 percent in 2000, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
“We have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at that market,” Marchionne, 60, said of minivans during a Nov. 15 press conference at a Chrysler engine plant in Detroit. “I’ve run more clinics on models than God knows. We’ve been doing this now for over a year.”
The Town & Country will join the Chrysler 200 sedan and convertible and the 300 sedan in having an S-edition version. The model will sell for $31,995 before delivery and other fees, Velisek told reporters during a Nov. 2 briefing at the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The Town & Country starts at $29,995 for the Touring model and $39,995 for the Limited edition, according to the company’s website.
Town & Country deliveries climbed 22 percent to 95,850 this year through October, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey- based Autodata. Sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan rose 28 percent to 118,730.
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