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Pacifica earns more honours; Caravan to remain in production

Sat Dec 16, 2017 9:18 pm

The Pacifica is still getting awards left right and center. The number of vehicles who have major issues must be statistically low to the number of Pacifica's out there for the serious issues to be ignored
Pacifica earns more honours; Caravan to remain in production
Windsor Star
Dave Battagello, Windsor StarDec 14, 2017
The Windsor-built Pacifica continues to snag awards — more than 70 to date — and there is no doubt that has caught the attention of buyers across North America, a top executive with the FCA Group says.

“It definitely increases awareness, brings people to the showroom and ultimately turns into sales,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car groups for the carmaker in North America.

The Pacifica was recognized Thursday by WardsAuto World for making its 10 best engines list for 2018. The minivan’s 3.6 Pentastar eHybrid captured the recognition for the second straight year.

“The awards do make a difference, especially with something like this that is brand new and for many people is a segment they are not familiar with,” Kuniskis said. “It’s an endorsement of the vehicle by a third-party for them.”

The company initially expected an equivalent of 80 miles per gallon with an electric only range of 30 miles and total range of 530. But in EPA ratings evaluations the Pacifica delivered even better performance of 84, 33 and 566, respectively.

“The Pacifica Hybrid is a big, seven-passenger plug-in hybrid minivan with all the bells and whistles families have come to adore, but with 33 miles of full electric range and levels of fuel efficiency unimaginable just a few short years ago,” said Drew Winter, senior content director at WardsAuto.

“With most owners using their minivans to run errands and occasionally take a long-distance drive, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a stroke of genius.”

The local workforce at the Windsor Assembly Plant should take pride in the ongoing recognition and popularity of the minivan, said Kuniskis, who oversees Chrysler, Dodge, SRT and Fiat brands for the company in North America.

The hybrid version is especially gaining popularity and now selling in “volume,” he said.

“The reception to the vehicle is fantastic,” Kuniskis said. “You are seeing them on average 12 days on the lot and out. We know why people buy the minivan. But with this new technology it’s unlike any other minivan out there.

“There are only 10 plug-in (vehicles) out there and we are capturing 15 per cent of the plug-ins being sold.”

While there have been rumours the company may gradually pull away from the minivan market in favour of crossovers or SUVs which have skyrocketed in popularity, Kuniskis countered why would the carmaker do that when the FCA minivan products continue to dominate the sector and continue to sell.

References to declining minivan sales numbers should be kept in perspective given that 500,000 units annually have left FCA the “dominant player” in the sector and not splitting the pie in the same fashion as other vehicles battling for sales among “28 competitors,” he said.

“We like our odds when we have a low number of competitors and the best product,” Kuniskis said.

Talk has also flared up that production in Windsor of the Dodge Caravan may also be nearing an end — with one U.S. industry analyst recently saying that will come at the end of 2019.

Kuniskis dismissed the rumours saying the Caravan will only stop being manufactured when buyers dry up.

“We will sundown the Caravan at some point and let the Pacifica take over,” he said. “But we have not set a date. Let the market decide. We don’t need to sundown there yet, it’s selling very well.”

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