Rethinking the Minivan

The minivan was a brilliant concept when conceived by Chrysler in the eighties. But the concept had such a laser-like focus on families with armies of rugrats that the class of vehicles got too much baggage. It was as if you owned a minivan, you had a bunch of kids, your life was limited to carting your kids to soccer/piano practice yada yada yada … so essentially you were ‘off the market’ if you know what I mean. Actually I am puzzled by society’s reaction to this baggage. If you have lotsa kids, doesn’t it mean that you are fertile and hence prime objects of acquisition – especially since the object of every creature is the propagation of its species.
OEMs need to rethink the whole product focus. VW accidentally stumbled on the right concept during the flower power years and made driving a van cool. OEMs should focus a van on the general market
1.       recreational users (who want to carry their bikes/kayaks inside rather than on the roof)
2.       Mild off roaders with camping capability and good ground clearance
3.       No minivan-ish looks with a short hood, low ground clearance
4.       No focus on kiddie features like automatic door openers, multiple DVD players.
If anyone envisions to use this vehicle to transport occupants in diapers/car-seats, those options should be available at the dealer (like Scion). Even third-row seats should be optional.
Chrysler made a half-hearted attempt to attract the attention of the weaker sex with the ‘man van.’ But no other OEM has the right image than VW. Everyone else is saddled with minivan baggage. VW did try to commit suicide by offering the Routan. But I bet the VW Microbus would have more name recognition than the Routan. (Routan who?)
The VW T1 van
Honestly, I don’t know what VW was thinking when it started offering the Routan – essentially a badge swap with the Chrysler minivan – sans its most popular feature  – the stow’n’go.
You cannot fool a consumer with a badge swap job. GM learned it the hard way with the Saab 9-7 and the ‘Saab’aru 9-2x.
VW had the concept right when it introduced the Microbus concept in the 90s and more recently, the Bulli. Unfortunately, it chose to get Chrysler to develop the Routan. I hope VW sees the writing on the wall and re-introduces the Microbus.
The VW microbus concept (Source: VW)

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