Chrysler to showcase new glam minivan this week

DETROIT, Tue Nov 27, 2012 — Chrysler Group LLC, which popularized the minivan nearly 30 years ago, will showcase an upscale version of its Chrysler Town & Country family minivan at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

The 2013 Town & Country S includes a standard Blu-Ray DVD player as well as a black chrome grill and black interior. The minivan is the third Chrysler model to join the automaker’s “S” lineup after the 200 and 300 sedans.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters that the automaker was “more or less” on track to launch a redesigned minivan by 2014. The company is the dominant player in the minivan segment, which it launched in 1983 under former CEO Lee Iacocca.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at that market,” Marchionne said, adding that the new minivan has been tested in consumer clinics for more than a year.

U.S. minivan sales peaked in 2000 at just more than 1.3 million and today’s sales are about half that, due in part to higher gasoline prices and the “soccer mom” stigma – that only families favor them. Over the last several years, Chrysler’s U.S. rivals, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., stopped production of their less-popular minivans.