Booming Van Sales Driven By Small Business

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
booming van sales driven by small business

In a sign the broader economy is on an upswing, small business owners who use commercial vans in their business are replacing their aging equipment with new vans, fueling a boom not seen since the start of the Great Recession.

USA Today reports as small businesses begin to invest in their companies once more — and with borrowing on the rise with loosened credit now available — commercial van sales rose to over 40 percent since 2010. The winter weather failed to put a dent in sales, rising 9 percent in January as auto sales fell 3 percent in the same period. IHS Automotive, in particular, expects sales to grow 27 percent overall between 2013 and 2015, with over 400,000 units leaving the lot for the wrap shop annually.

Though the commercial van market has been dominated by Ford, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, more automakers are entering the market with offerings of their own, such as Nissan’s NV series and Ram’s minivan-based Cargo Van. As a result, total small van sales — such as the Ford Transit Connect and Nissan NV200 — were over 53,000 units in 2013, while 259,000 large vans were sold in the same period.

More vans are expected to enter the market this year, including the Nissan NV200-based Chevrolet City Express and Fiat Doblo-based Ram ProMaster City.

Join the conversation
18 of 45 comments
  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 28, 2014

    These style vehicles are the pickups of Europe. They have roughly the same payload as a pickup. They are everywhere. It seems the US is looking at more economical and better ways of doing business. If a small business person can save a dollar then why not. The only issue I have is the availability of a small 1.6 litre diesel for the US market. I was just on another site explaining how economic considerations will change the US vehicle market, especially commercial vehicles.

  • Add Lightness Add Lightness on Mar 01, 2014

    If the small vans are being sold for commercial purposes, which is about $, why don't they offer the much more efficient diesel versions and standard transmissions which are way, way more economical? The manual cost savings is about the same as the extra diesel cost and most tradespeople are not a klutz with the clutch. Not every work truck diesel has to be the $8,000 option that Detroit loves to sell.

    • See 1 previous
    • Toad Toad on Mar 01, 2014

      The emission control costs (not to mention higher purchase and maintenance costs) on the newest deisels push the breakeven point vs. gasoline much higher in light and smaller medium duty vehicles. The last number I remember reading was 30,000 miles annually; if you drive fewer miles than that you are better off buying the gasoline engine. I believe I saw the number in Fleet Manager magazine but I wouldn't bet my house on it.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Mar 01, 2014

    Small business has been using minivans, since there's been minivans. Same with full-size vans. Small business, or any company on earth, only buy what they need when it comes to commercial vehicles. They don't buy an 18 wheeler when a medium duty will do. They also don't buy full-size vans when a minivan will do. Minivans aren't taking over the world, anytime soon. Least not America. Yes mid-size minivans and full-size vans are both vans, but let's not oversimplify. It's true consumers are known to cross shop various size/classes of cars, but it's not so true for trucks, especially commercial.

    • See 11 previous
    • Econobiker Econobiker on Mar 06, 2014

      @Big Al from Oz Just read in a fleet manager magazine that the manager of a 9,300 unit fleet for a Northeast US cable company was converting to the Chrysler mini-van cargo configuration because cable was going fiber optic versus copper cable and the big Chevy Expresses were not needed anymore due to lesser weight of the fiber cable. He said everything stored in the Chevy was able to be in the mini-van except the 28' ladder which was attached to a roof rack on both versions.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 02, 2014

    These minis will not be seen as a success until you see tacos being sold from them. The taco trucks that ply work sites are the true economic indicators. When they're downtown, stealing office workers from restaurants, the economy isn't doing so hot. When they're roaming the job sites of brawny men building America, then all is well, especially if these minis can keep the cost of rolled tacos and quesadillas down.