Auto Service World
News   November 3, 2008   by Auto Service World

Minivan Turns 25, Windsor Plant Celebrates Start of a Revolution

It may seem incredible to some that the minivan, which changed the very nature of how many Canadians think about daily transportation, is only now turning 25, and that this revolution began in Windsor, Ont.
Chrysler LLC today celebrated the 25th anniversary of the world’s first minivan at the assembly plant where it rolled off the line on Nov. 2, 1983.
The event was attended by Frank Ewasyshyn, executive vice president – manufacturing, Chrysler LLC; Reid Bigland, president and CEO – Chrysler Canada; Marcel Breault, Windsor Assembly Plant manager; Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) national president Ken Lewenza; the Honourable Sandra Pupatello, Minister of International Trade and Investment; Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis; Windsor plant employees; and other guests. In a pre-recorded message, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca spoke about his memories of the minivan launch.
“Twenty-five years ago, I had the honour of riding in the world’s first minivan as it came off the line at Windsor Assembly,” said Iacocca. “It didn’t take long to figure out that our minivans were going to rewrite the rules in the automotive industry.”
When the first minivan was launched, Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada. Lech Walesa was the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The Internet was created, and the first mobile phones were introduced to the public. U.S. astronauts completed the first space shuttle spacewalk; Michael Jackson performed the “moonwalk.”
The Chrysler minivan was a response to new customer needs identified in the marketplace. In the late 1970s, large numbers of Baby Boomers were starting families and were looking for an economical alternative to traditional automotive transportation. Chrysler designers and engineers identified a vehicle market based on a few simple premises: fuel-efficient, easy to step into, family friendly and smaller than a full-sized van. The rest is history.
The Chrysler minivan is sold in over 80 countries. Canadians have purchased more than one and a half million Chrysler and Dodge minivans since 1983, and worldwide the company has sold more than 12 million.
“Canadians are value conscious consumers,” said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Chrysler Canada. “Even before fuel prices started skyrocketing, they recognized minivans as a great alternative to large SUVs, offering comparable levels of functionality and flexibility. Total Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country sales are up an incredible 59 percent this year through October — proving that the segment is alive and well in Canada.”

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