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Yes, the Dodge (and it's Freightliner cousin) is a Mercedes-Benz. It's selling well, but not nearly as good as the Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford competition.

Safety regulations in the US are hardly "prohibitive." Dozens of manufacturers have no problem meeting them and I don't see this as a barrier to entry. Because airbags and crash protection are required, I don't see it as "prohibitive."

Ford's full-sized van, by the way, has a 4.2L V6.

Toyota and Nissan knew their imported vans weren't competitive. There wasn't enough of commercial market to support the windowless versions of these little vans...little vans that have LESS interior space than the Dodge Caravan because they were RWD and were lighter-duty than the American-style minivans.

Again, laws were not changed to make imported vans retreat from US shores. The fact is they were not competitive. Toyota and Nissan came back with competitive vans and gained major market share with the Quest and Sienna.

Gas is cheap. That's part of the market. If there were a market for these vans, they would have worked the first time. If there were a market for these vans, four-cylinder Caravans would sell better...Toyota would OFFER a four-cylinder...and heaven knows Nissan would do anything to make the Quest sell better. But the market doesn't exist.

Here are the facts that you're not picking up on. The Dodge Caravan has MORE interior space BECAUSE it's FWD. FWD is not problematic or else they wouldn't have sold 5 or 6 MILLION of them. The Caravan has no manual transmission (in the US, but it's offered in Europe) because the American market is over 90% automatic. There's no 4wd offered because when it was offered (for over a decade), the take rate was under 5%. Toyota's old van design was uncompetitive in the US in 1989 which is why the Sienna was introduced...no four cylinder engine, no manual transmission, and STILL has less interior space than the Caravan.

The point is, these vans are what sell in the US. The Caravan is the best-selling minivan in Europe....and Canada...and the US. The Hiace sells in regions where basic vans work...that's not in the US.

By the way, Nissan's going to introduce a REAL, AMERICAN-STYLE van to the US market. It's not a Hiace copy...it's more of a Sprinter copy. Something tailored for the US market, not something adapted from another market. Toyota (and every other successful company in the world) has realized that you can't try to sell vehicles designed for another market in the US. Gas is cheap...roads stretch on for thousands of miles...and Americans are fat. You can't assume that a Hiace would work in the US. Why would it suddenly work today if it didn't work a decade and a half ago?
 

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To Hudson:

Earlier I posted on the same issue. There is a reply about plans for selling
Hiace in US, the name of the thread is "Just a quote from New York Times".

I am not sure how you figure out that Caravan has more interior space, any
references? My thinking was, OK they are the same length, but in Toyota a
driver sits above the engine (Forward Control), hence more room for cargo.
And I deliver newspapers and my boss has a Caravan C-V, it looks a lot less
inside. And how do you know Caravan is the best selling minivan in Europe?

Regarding Dodge Caravan vs. Toyota Van, it is my personal opinion the Van
is better. My only hope is that Chinese will start selling their Hiace knock off,
since Toyota doesn't seem to care. And if they provide diesel, and financing,
they will sell at least one, to me.
 

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There are two lengths of Caravan...and the shorter version of the first-generation Caravan was the same length of the Toyota Van (175 inches), but the long version is 15 inches longer. The current generation Caravan measures 186 inches long or 200 inches long. The load area in the long Caravan can handle a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood flat on the floor. The Hiace cannot do that.

The top selling minivans in Europe are the Chrysler Voyager, Renault Espace, and Volkswagen Sharan. The Voyager actually ranks behind the Espace (my apologies), but ahead of the Volkswagen (34,000 Voyagers built last year vs 32,000 Sharans and 50,000 Espaces).
 

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To Hudson:

You seem to confuse Caravan with what I am talking about
a medium/full size cargo van. The difference is that Caravan
is a family minivan, primarily designed to haul kids, camping
gear, etc. Toyota Hiace is designed to haul cargo. No matter
what your arguments are, for small businesses (US is number
one in the world) cargo vans will be more suitable.

In the medium/full size cargo van sector in US there is a gap,
because there is no competition to domestic models, which I
outlined earlier. This is why small businesses in US prefer the
so called "pickup" trucks.

If one could introduce some japanese vans (made in China),
the benefits would be twofold - superior desing and pricing.
The design factor will beat the American vans, and the low
prices will beat the Mercedes Sprinter.

The only problem is the "safety" regulations, which I think
are structured to chase off foreign competitors. This is just
my gut feeling, and I have no proof, but why would other
van manufacturers be absent in US market (French, German,
Japanese, you name it). You say it is due to 25% tariff, but
I think that would be easy to bypass with tricks like adding
doors or seats to avoid the "truck" classification.

So the only question really is "Why are foreign cargo vans
absent in US market?" Can you prove that the market does
not exist? Can I prove that other vans are banned out? It
remains to be seen.

And as for the interior room of Caravan Cargo, tomorrow I
will personally take measurements, and compare it to my
Toyota Van.
 

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Safety regulations don't seem to chase anyone away. And wouldn't adding seats to a cargo van defeat the purpose of your cargo van idea?

The Caravan cargo is offered without seats or windows, just like cargo vans around the world. It was designed to be a passenger vehicle, but you can just as easily get one without seats.

The mid-engined design of the Hiace makes the load floor short...and the rear-wheel drive makes the load floor high. In the Caravan, the engine is up front allowing the load floor to be flat from the rear doors to the front seat mountings. Additionally, FWD design allows the floor to be lower.

I think you're over-estimating the size and capability of the Toyota Hiace and you're under-estimating the same qualities of the Caravan and Grand Caravan.
 

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Hudson said:
The top selling minivans in Europe are the Chrysler Voyager, Renault Espace, and Volkswagen Sharan. The Voyager actually ranks behind the Espace (my apologies), but ahead of the Volkswagen (34,000 Voyagers built last year vs 32,000 Sharans and 50,000 Espaces).
I think this is considering minivans as MPV's - i.e. passenger vehicles but with more seats/ space than a normal car. In Europe there are a lot of light vans such as the ford transit, iveco daily, vw something etc which are available as both cargo vehicles and minibuses, but are not the sort of thing you'd use as a family vehicle. It is against those kind of vehicles that the Hiace might be compared to, although it's a little smaller.

I don't know the volumes, but I am sure the transit, for example, must be a way higher volume than these 30-50k units of each of the above minivans. The transit is produced in a dedicated plant that makes nothing else and in many variants.

Ford don't try to sell the transit in usa, but whether this is because it wouldn't sell, or because they have us alternative vehicles already, I don't know.
 

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fightingtorque said:
I don't know the volumes, but I am sure the transit, for example, must be a way higher volume than these 30-50k units of each of the above minivans. The transit is produced in a dedicated plant that makes nothing else and in many variants.
The Hiace is considerably smaller than the Transit, which is built in two plants (UK and Turkey) for the European market.

Yes, the Transit has numbers far greater than the minivans of which I mentioned. But as you mentioned, the Transit is primarily a (large) cargo van and not a people hauler. The Hiace, and it's sized vehicles, have a niche but the Hiace is sold in (relative to the Voyager, Espace, and Sharan) small numbers in Europe.

China is a far different market than the US. There's very little demand for such small delivery vehicles, especially when SUVs and crossovers and minivans are so easily purchased, economical (aside from most SUVs) to operate, safe on the road, easily serviced, and cheap to buy. Importing a van from China might be good for a small niche, but it would be very small. Assuming that a proper dealership network were established with 200-300 dealers with a proper network of parts distributors, a properly trained service staff, and an emissions compliant engine, a $15,000 Toyota Hiace would be expected to sell in the 10,000-20,000 unit range, if everything worked out perfectly. I still don't see how a business case can be made for this vehicle since it would cost tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars just to get the vehicle to market and profit would be low on such a vehicle. It would take more than a decade to turn a profit.
 

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Allow me to revive this thread, and challenge Hudson once again.
I just discovered a very useful website - www.carsurvey.org Any
one seriously considering Toyota Van vs. Dodge Caravan will see
that public opinion by far favors Toyota Van.

My own Toyota Van has 283k miles, still original engine and trany.
I wish they still sold them. There is a whole community of vaners
who think the same way - www.toyotavans.net/forum. And since
I just paid $3.5 for 87 grade gasoline at the pump today, I believe
the market for such vehicle grows stronger.

I am not an expert in Chinese cloning capabilities, but judging from
common knowledge, they can knock off anything, eg. Hiace, Town
Ace, Lite Ace, and be able to address the gap in US market that I
keep talking about. I read in a car magazine (don't remember which
one) a review of DHL, FedEx and UPS mail delivery vehicles, and the
article praised Mercedes Sprinter as "widely successful". I agree, it
may be a good car, but it costs 35 grand minimum. Try to sell a van
for under $15 (TownAce/LiteAce) or under $25 (Hiace) and a couple
years later they will get the same praises, because THERE ARE NO
IMPORTED VANS IN US MARKET, and american vans are crap, crap,
crap (see www.carsurvey.org).

The only concern would be the quality of Chinese parts. Other than
that, it would be an ideal move to crack the US car market.
 

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The MG 7 should be the first Chinese car into the USA. It's the only car with a brand and with the quality to make it over there at this moment in time. Roewe may do ok but quite honestly MG is the car the US want's first. They used to beg MG in the UK to ship cars to the USA, so that say's it all.

In the future I think Cherry and Geeley may do ok but I don't think they are quite there yet.
 

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Dmitry said:
they can knock off anything, eg. Hiace, Town
Ace, Lite Ace, and be able to address the gap in US market that I
keep talking about.
The Hiace clones are actually under license.

Jinbei?
 
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