Since their first appearance in the US in the 1980's, minivans have become a symbol of automotive dorkdom. They offer many, many advantages in terms of comfort, carrying capacity, efficiency and ease of use. That's why I have no use for them. Give me a car with character anytime over an appliance.
For a minority - but growing percentage - of Americans, they seem to offer housing. An NPR reporter spent time in Florida this week and interviewed a 40-something man from Alabama. He had a good job for many years, lost it in the recession, couldn't make his house payments, and then became homeless.
So he and two friends now live in his minivan. The roominess of the minivan enables them to sleep in the car, albeit without great comfort. They're finding enough day labor to have food and gas but not enough to make deposits and rent an apartment.
He joins a lot of workers finding tough times in this employment market. Bob Herbert noted today that "“What we’ve seen over the past eight years, for young people under 30, is the largest age reversal with regard to jobs that we’ve ever had in our history,” said Andrew Sum, the director of the Center for Labor Market Studies. “The younger you are, the more you got pushed out of this labor market.”
So the fellow with the minivan will be joined by a lot more people, and it looks like minivans will have an unfortunate role in this economy for a lot longer than we would want.
I have to admit; it would be hard to sleep in my TR-7.