The Truth About Cars » Commercial Vehicles The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:42:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Commercial Vehicles Lord, I Was Born A Ramblin Van Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:00:54 +0000 hyundai-cargo-van-spy-photo-01

Is Hyundai making a play for the commercial van market in North America? Automotive News seems to think so.

These spyshots (from AutoGuide.comshow Hyundai testing a new large commercial van somewhere in Europe, whereas AN caught it testing in California. Either way, it’s clear that Hyundai wants in on the action that the Sprinter, Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit are eagerly targeting.


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Nissan, PGE In Six-Week Commercial EV Market Research Trial Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:00:28 +0000 Portland General Electric Nissan e-NV200

While Portland, Ore. may be the place where the dream of the 1990s is still very much alive and well, the 21st century — and Nissan — is bringing the city’s electric company up to date as far as electric vehicles are concerned.

Autoblog Green reports the automaker has enlisted Portland General Electric to help in a six-week trial of its e-NV200 electric van, recording data to help better determine the EV’s viability in the United States commercial vehicle market, as explained by Nissan Director of U.S. EV Marketing Toby Perry:

Oregon has been a top five market for Nissan LEAF sales in the U.S. due to proactive policies at the state level to encourage EV adoption, as well as robust charging infrastructure championed by the state and others like PGE. If we determine that e-NV200 fits into the U.S. commercial vehicle market, we expect that Portland would be a leading driver for sales as well.

Nissan is deploying two e-NV200s along the West Coast and within the Beltway, partnering with companies like PGE and FedEx to further its market research. Currently, the PGE project has placed the EV with an underground crew, swapping places with a large diesel van for the six weeks the research will be conducted. The e-NV200 will go on sale in Europe later this summer, and in Japan later in the year.

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Cain’s Segments June 2014: Commercial Vans Wed, 11 Jun 2014 10:30:52 +0000 550x395x2014-RAM-ProMaster-Exterior-007-550x395.jpg.pagespeed.ic.mie78qN3ye

The only van not capable of improving its May 2013 U.S. sales figures in May 2014 possessed an in-showroom rival last month which didn’t exist a year ago. Ram Cargo Van sales fell 21%, or 209 units, in May 2014. But with the ProMaster making headway, total Ram commercial van sales jumped 84%.

FCA is not yet a major player in America’s commercial van category, but the ProMaster has, together with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Nissan NV200, stirred up the traditional full-size van market.

Ignore the smaller Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200, and Ram C/V for a moment to focus on the full-size vans. 14.4% of the full-size commercial-oriented vans sold in the United States in May 2014 weren’t GM or Ford products, up from 10.9% in pre-ProMaster May 2013, and 3.5% in pre-NV May 2009.

This isn’t to suggest that Ford and General Motors are soon to lose control of the American commercial van industry. Indeed, in the coming months, Ford will combine two formulas: the new Transit will still wear a Blue Oval, the logo so many buyers associate with commercial van desirability, and it will also utilize all the European flexibility and diesel availability FedEx enjoys with its Sprinters.

Back in the here and now, Ford set a Transit Connect sales record in May with the model’s second consecutive year-over-year sales increase after a 29% first quarter drop. (Ford’s monthly sales releases don’t separate sales of the Transit Connect van from the minivan-fighting Wagon.) The Transit Connect sold more than twice as often as the Nissan NV200 and Ram C/V combined. Chevrolet’s NV200-based City Express should help form a viable Transit Connect opposition later this year.

Meanwhile, GM’s market share in the overall commercial van market slid only slightly from 30.6% during the first five months of 2013 to 30.5% year-to-date; rising to 35.6% in May 2014 compared with 33.5% in May 2013 and 27.5% in April 2014. Through the first five months of 2014, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana generated 43,314 U.S. sales.

Nissan commercial van sales more than doubled to 2678 units in May – the NV200 was only a two-month-old product at this time a year ago. Sprinter volume reached the second-highest level in the model’s U.S. history in 2013 and sales are up more than 23% in 2014. Year-over-year, Sprinter sales have improved in each of the last nine months, following four calendar years of improvement.

The overall category enjoyed a massive month in May 2014 as sales increased by 8524 units, a 28% boost. Sales are up 14% to 142,116 units so far this year, equal to 2.1% of the industry’s total output, up from 1.9% a year ago. It’s not a bad business in which to operate. The Volkswagen brand, for example, has sold 150,317 vehicles in 2014; Mazda has sold 130,223. Total pickup truck volume has risen 4% to more than 900,000 units through five months.

5 mos.
5 mos.
Chevrolet Express
9822 8353 +17.6% 31,378 31,734 -1.1%
Ford E-Series
14,269 12,571 +13.5% 55,115 52,783 +4.4%
Ford Transit Connect
4222 3709 +13.8% 15,226 16,914 -10.0%
GMC Savana
4124 1906 +116% 11,936 6320 +88.9%
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
2264 1828 +23.9% 9282 7517 +23.5%
Nissan NV
1475 971 +51.9% 6231 5148 +21.0%
Nissan NV200
1203 341 +253% 4564 588 +676%
Ram Cargo Van
768 977 -21.4% 3808 3452 +10.3%
Ram ProMaster
1033 4576
30,656 +27.8% 142,116 124,456 +14.2%
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Ram ProMaster Production Begins In Mexico, Will Commercial Van Buyers Embrace FWD? Mon, 15 Jul 2013 11:00:22 +0000 rampromaster_r

Around the same time that the one millionth U.S. built Kia rolled off a Georgia assembly line, the first Ram ProMaster was being built in a Mexican Chrysler factory. The ProMaster, a revised Fiat Ducato, will give Chrysler/Dodge/Ram dealers a large commercial van to sell for the first time since the Mercedes based Sprinter went away in 2010.


It will be interesting to see how American businesses and tradesmen embrace the ProMaster. Unlike traditional full sized vans, like all of the competing products from Ford, GM and Nissan, the ProMaster has front wheel drive. Commercial and fleet buyers tend to be conservative. Look at how police officers and forces have regarded the FWD Impala, for example, compared to the Crown Vic. The Ram brand is hoping that FWD’s advantages, the lower load floor, greater headroom in back, more cargo space and improved fuel economy will offset concerns about durability as well as handling and traction when loaded. Conventional vans have a forward weight bias so adding cargo in the back improves handling and putting that weight near to the driven rear axle improves traction. Adding cargo to a FWD drive vehicle moves the weight bias away from the driven wheels.

It will take until the fall for the pipeline to fill with the new ProMaster and for the trucks to start arriving at the 800 Chrysler “BusinessLink” dealers that specialize in commercial vehicles.



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PSA, GM Discussing A Return For Peugeot And Citroen Products In The USA Wed, 10 Jul 2013 13:50:10 +0000 Citroën_Jumpy_Kombi_front_20110109

No, the headline is not just empty click-bait. According to La TribuneGM and PSA are looking at bringing some current Peugeot and Citroen products to America. The only catch is that they’d be commercial vans.

The Citroen Jumpy and Peugeot Expert, the two vans in question, are currently built in a joint venture with Fiat due to expire in 2017. PSA is looking for a replacement solution, and with GM currently buying vans from Nissan (their NV vans are going to be sold as Chevrolets), it would be advantageous for GM to take advantage of their alliance with PSA and get something out of the deal.

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Say “As-Salamu Alaykum” To Yusuf al-Isuzu Fri, 20 Jul 2012 17:34:17 +0000

Isuzu is joining the “let’s flee Japan and the rising yen” bandwagon, and their latest venture involves assembling export-bound trucks in Saudi Arabia.

Just-Auto outlines Isuzu’s strategy, which has nothing to do with the VehiCross

Isuzu can minimize the effects of the strong yen and better compete for what is expected to be a growing market for commercial trucks as Gulf nations step up infrastructure investment.

Small and large commercial trucks will eventually be added in, with production reaching a total capacity of 25,000 units. As much as Isuzu is made out to be the butt of jokes in North America, their Middle East distributor network looks fairly robust – or at least more robust than the Lebanese parliamentary democracy.

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The Battle Of The Euro-Van: Ford And Ram To Take On Sprinter Fri, 07 Oct 2011 15:51:49 +0000 Daimler’s Sprinter Van has been available in the US for ten years now, but thanks to high prices, inconsistent brand strategy (it’s been marketed as a Freightliner, Dodge, and now Mercedes), and some curious marketing choices, it’s never made a huge impact on the market. And with Ram announcing that it will bring Sprinter-sized Ducato vans to the US, it seems like a good time to reflect on the words of Paul Niedermeyer, who wrote back in early 2010

Yes, I can muster some appreciation of Econolines of yore. But the painful reality is that the current E-Series is an ugly, primitive and inefficient pig virtually unchanged since 1974.  The fact that the American light truck sector hasn’t had the same revolution that European design influences have had on passenger cars is a mystery. Case in point: Ford’s Transit (not Connect) vans are a (several, actually) giant development leap ahead of the Econoline, offering FWD, RWD and AWD variants in three wheelbase lengths, numerous configurations, and driven by the most advanced diesels that can get well over 20 mpg. The Transit outsells Mercedes Sprinter in Europe. What the hell is Ford waiting for?

According to C&D, Ford was just waiting for the new Escape to go into production in Louisville, in order to free up production of the Transit at Kansas City. Apparently Ford has even filed trademark applications for a number of “T-Series” names, so expect a full line of Transit vans to replace the decrepit Econolines. And with three offerings in the large commercial van segment instead of just one, expect more choices, more competition, more marketing, and a general van renaissance in the US. At a time when minivans have become so unloved they’ve given rise to the now-ubiquitous crossover, it’s nice to see that the van make something of a comeback.

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