boston.com Business your connection to The Boston Globe

Chrysler eases away from deep incentives

Asking price on minivans lowered

John Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Chrysler, has said the firm has no plans to sell the carmaker. John Snow, chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Chrysler, has said the firm has no plans to sell the carmaker. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

DETROIT -- Chrysler Group will reduce the sticker prices on its 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans an average of $2,000 while adding features, the company said yesterday.

But two industry analysts said that since current minivans are offered with generous incentives, the 2008 pricing just brings the asking price closer to the actual prices consumers pay now.

The size of the price reduction will vary with options and models when the vans arrive in dealerships this fall, Chrysler said.

For example, the base model Dodge Grand Caravan SE will be priced at $22,470, $1,950 below the current sticker price of $24,420, the company said. A Chrysler Town & Country LX would drop $3,585, from $26,775 to $23,190. The high-end Town & Country Limited would drop $935, from $37,335 to $36,400.

On both the Dodge and Chrysler minivans, the company added all-row side curtain air bags with rollover protection, electronic stability control with brake assist and traction control, as well as other standard features.

Chrysler was able to reduce the prices while adding features largely because its factories have become more efficient at installing safety systems in its new minivans and factory workers have agreed to a team approach to building the vehicles, said Michele Tinson, a Chrysler spokeswoman.

Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for the Edmunds.com automotive website, said the company is also getting a boost from declining costs for air bags and other features.

He said the price reductions merely bring the minivans closer to actual sales prices for 2007 models. On the current Grand Caravan, for instance, Dodge is offering an average of $4,400 in incentives, or around 25 percent off the sticker price, Toprak said.

Both General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have withdrawn from the minivan market, so Chrysler sees 2008 as a year to grab more sales, Toprak said. Chrysler's major minivan competitors, the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, are not new models, and Chrysler could take sales away from them with its redesigned minivans, he said.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES