Honda (NYSE: HMC) announced plans to revamp its Odyssey minivan at the North American International Auto Show.
In this clip from Industry Focus: Industrials, Motley Fool contributor John Rosevear talks about the state of the minivan market today, and where Honda's souped-up Odyssey will fit into it. Also, he explains what new features the minivan will have, what competition Honda will be facing, and why this is such an important product for Honda.
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A full transcript follows the video.
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Sean O'Reilly: So, I understand that Honda revamped the Odyssey as well. That's the other car you need for going to soccer tournaments every weekend.
John Rosevear: The Odyssey is interesting. Minivans used to be huge. Now they're less huge, but a lot of automakers, like GM(NYSE: GM), for instance, have turned away from making them. There are really three...well, four, that compete for the minivan market. There still is good demand for minivans. Toyota Sienna is the leader. Close behind is the Dodge Grand Caravan. Fiat Chrysleralso has the new Chrysler Pacifica. Originally, the Pacifica was going to replace the Caravan, but they seemed to have decided to keep the Caravan around for a while. And there's the Honda Odyssey. The Odyssey was third in sales last year, behind Toyota and the Dodge, despite the fact that the outgoing Honda Odyssey is actually a newer model than either the Toyota or the Dodge.
But they've come out for 2018 with what they say is an all-new van, which is kind of surprising if you look at it, because it looks like a sleeker, touched-up version of the one they had. But there's a lot of new technology in this. It's a kid-hauler -- it's a deluxe kid-hauler. You can option it up to something really nice. My kids are older and out of the minivan age now, but I would have loved to have [had] something like this 15 years ago. It's got all these family friendly features. It has wifi, it has screens, it has different memory modes for the kids' entertainment; it has this microphone and video system where if you're in the front seat, you can see the kids in the back seat with the camera, and you can talk to them if they have their headphones plugged in.
O'Reilly: Wow! [laughs]
Rosevear: Yeah, I would have liked to have had that when my guys were little! And all these other things: They say in passing, "Oh, and this is new washable leather," for instance. Well, OK, you can see why a parent with a minivan is going to love that kind of thing. Again, this is a small segment, but the numbers are big: 100,000 sales a year or more for most of these big players.
Honda would like to gain some ground. The key competitor here will be the Chrysler Pacifica, which was all new last year. Chrysler is very good at the kid-friendly, family friendly touches. They did a lot of the same kinds of things that Honda did in the new Pacifica. The new Pacifica has whizbang styling going for it. What Honda has is Honda. Honda has this impeccable reputation for safety and reliability that they bring in, whereas Chrysler has been up and down, not with safety so much, but reliability has been up and down over the years. It will be an interesting competition. In a very boring segment, yes, but again, the profits here are substantial.