Automakers are attacking the small and stagnant minivan market with vigor normally reserved for the booming sport utility market, according to USA Today
.They are lavishing their newest van designs with costly luxury hardware and expensive sports car running gear. They have teamed with upscale partners for audio and video systems. They've even built factories just to manufacture minivans, USA Today
reported.All that for a market of about 1 million salesa year, split largely among five major players that snag 70 percent of all minivan sales. The other 10 minivans are left to scrap for the leavings -- some 300,000 annual sales. That's enough to keep one factory running full time but not enough to profitably occupy 10, USA Today
said.Seldom in the car business is so much spent by so many to lure so few into showrooms. Itseems like madness on the part of automakers, but it could be magic for buyers: The more competition, the bigger the discounts."It's fair to say it's a mature market and at best it's holding steady, but you have to look at more than who buys minivans," says Ford spokesman David Reuter. "You have to look at what other type of vehicles they move into."Minivans are life-stage vehicles. You certainly need to be there when they need minivans," Reuter says, or you risk losing the chance to sell them other vehicles later.