In the collective imagination, especially in Europe, the inventor of the minivan is Renault with the Espace, which was released in 1984.
However, as early as 1982, Nissan paved the way for these family vehicles with Prairie. In 1983, Chrysler introduced its Voyager in the United States.
When designing the Espace, Matra will take the “monocorps” concept even further, with a bonnet that extends from the windshield, and will improve style, with sliding and rotating single seats.
From its first day of marketing, the Chrysler Voyager has been tearing like hot cakes in the United States. The plant in Windsor, Ontario, is unable to continue, and after a year of marketing, Chrysler has sold more than 200,000 copies of its pickup truck, ten times the target group.
For the manufacturer, this success comes at the right time. Chrysler is facing huge investments and has had to borrow.
The good news is that Voyager not only sells easily, but it earns comfortable profit margins. Finally, this car that was sold as the top of the range is nothing more than a versatile body in which the carpets and long seats were laid.
Chrysler didn’t want Voyager
To make the most of that success, we’ll turn it down on the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager, only to water all of the Chrysler Group’s dealer networks. The latter swears by this model.
Ironically, the same leaders are said to have been very skeptical about the prospects of this minivan, ready since 1981, but it was never a priority to be presented to the public.
A project that has been around since the 1970s and will owe its arrival to an innovation: the flat floor, which allows for plenty of interior space and a less bulky front end.
Voyager, the opening tool
Having primarily served the American market, Chrysler saw the Voyager as a way to conquer the European market for good. The success of the Renault Espace underscores the Americans.
Since 1988, Voyager has been sold in Europe and France. We appreciate the side of the truck and the typical American view.
On the engine side, the Mitsubishi V6 and especially the arrival of the Turbo Diesel VM allow Voyager to position itself as a reliable alternative to the Renault Espace.
The best selling minivan in the world
Over the years, the Chrysler Voyager has undergone many developments, having seen eight generations so far. As renovations progress, it is becoming more and more European, getting closer and closer to the Renault Espace or its newer competitors such as the PSA minivan.
If the Renault Espace is still considered a huge success, the numbers do not speak for it.
The Chrysler Voyager and its derivatives are the world’s best-selling minivan to date, with more than 15 million units produced. Against him, Renault Espace sold 1,300,000 copies.
At the height of their career at the end of the nineties, the minibus would have a sad ending.
The tags are the details
We are in 2011. Sergio Marchionne, who was then a powerful head of the Fiat group, is not interested in notions of history or DNA. Since the Italian got his hands on the Chrysler group, the leader seems to regard the brand’s emblems as interchangeable stickers from one car to another.
Some of the elusive Fiat has become and vice versa, but Chrysler and Lancia go one step further.
As he presents another survival plan to the group, Marchionne declares that there is no more money for Lancia. To continue presenting this brand, it will simply return the Chrysler Group badge to Lancia in the European market.
Voyager becomes Lancia!
The 300C saloon becomes a new theme, and the Chrysler 200 convertible revives the Flavia. As for Voyager, it keeps its name, but it falls under the Lancia flag! The car changes its branding overnight.
In the first few months, the Italian president is pleased to see Voyager participate in increasing Lancia sales in Europe. But in fact, the ending has already been recorded. Voyager only attracts a few hundred customers.
Even being the only seven-seater on the market that owns a big box, you have to face the facts: the minivan market is definitely dead. The arrival of large SUVs will accelerate the fall.
The Lancia Voyager will last as long as stocks run out, a long and agonizing death that will end in 2015.
Space and travel, the same battle
The Chrysler Voyager still exists today in the United States, as is the Renault Espace in France.
Definitely left by big SUVs, the Espace is living its last months. The last generation tried to renew the genre. But by losing all its practical aspects without offering anything else, the space has lost another follower.
As for Voyager, Chrysler manages to sell only a few tens of thousands of copies annually to rental companies.