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The Nissan Elgrand is a modern minivan.

A minivan is a vehicle designed primarily for passenger safety and comfort, with three rows of adult-size seats, access through large sliding doors, and car-like handling and fuel economy. Minivans are purchased for their versatility and can often transport more people than a three-row sport utility vehicle, and also with better comfort, access, and fuel economy.[1] Like most modern vehicles, minivans typically are of unibody construction with front-wheel drive. They also feature a short, sloping aerodynamic hood. They are usually taller than sedans or station wagons, affording a good view of the road. Minivans usually have removable seats to allow hauling of cargo on a flat floor.

North American market[edit]

The term minivan came into use in North America in contrast to full-size vans. Model timeline:

The minivan's market share peaked in 2000 with sales of 1.4 million units in USA. This shrank to about half a million in 2013.[4] In 2014 minivan sales in America grew 6%. The market is shared about equally by the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Caravan, with the remaining 6% of the market share by the Mazda 5 and Nissan Quest.[5] From 2014 the market will be shared by the Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, and Kia models.



  • 1984: Renault Espace introduced. Like a modern minivan but with ordinary sedan-style rear doors rather than sliding doors. Still in production.
  • 1988: Chrysler Voyager, manufactured in Austria, introduced. Unlike the American versions these could be had with diesel engines and manual transmissions.
  • 1994: PSA Peugeot Citroën and the Fiat Group begin producing minivans under the Sevel joint venture. Discontinued around 2014.
  • 1996: The Volkswagen Group, in a joint venture with Ford of Europe, introduce the Volkswagen Sharan and its rebadged siblings. Ford later withdrew from the Auto-Europa joint venture to build its own Galaxy sharing many parts with the Ford S-Max.
  • 1998: Kia Carnival begins to be imported from Korea.
  • 2004: the SsangYong Rodius begins to be imported from Korea.
  • 2015: Mercedes-Benz introduces the V-Class (W447).[6]


Predecessors of the minivan[edit]

Antecedents include the 1936 Stout Scarab, which featured a removable table and second row seats that turn 180 degrees to face the rear.[7][8] The DKW Schnellaster, manufactured from 1949 to 1962 was one of the first vehicles to feature the characteristics of modern minivans.[9] In 1950, the Volkswagen Type 2 adapted a bus-shaped body to the compact Volkswagen Beetle. When Volkswagen introduced a sliding side door on their van in 1968, it then had all the features that would later come to define a minivan: compact length, three rows of forward-facing seats, station wagon-style top-hinged tailgate/liftgate, sliding side door, passenger car base. Fiat built a similar vehicle, the 1956 Multipla based on the Fiat 600 with the same "cab over" engine and door layout.



  1. ^ "Minivan buying guide". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Stepler, Richard (February 1985). "New generation minivans". Popular Science 226 (2): 74–75. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Best of the Minivans". Kiplinger's Personal Finance 44 (7): 41. July 1990. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "'Mom mobiles' a shrinking category for automakers". CNBC. Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  5. ^ Cain, Timonthy. "Chart Of The Day: U.S. Minivan Market Share In 2014". The Truth about Cars. Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  6. ^ "2015 Mercedes-Benz V-class". Car & Driver. Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  7. ^ Patton, Phil (6 January 2008). "A Visionary's Minivan Arrived Decades Too Soon". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Darukhanawala, Adil Jal (May 2001). "Blast from the past: 1936 Stout Scarab". (source: Overdrive). Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Mother Of All Modern Minivans: 1949 DKW Schnellaster". The Truth About Cars, Paul Niedermeyer, March 29, 2010.