Cain's Segments June 2014: Commercial Vans

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
cain s segments june 2014 commercial vans

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.

AutoMay2014May2013%Change5 mos.20145 mos.2013%ChangeChevrolet Express98228353+17.6%31,37831,734-1.1%Ford E-Series14,26912,571+13.5%55,11552,783+4.4%Ford Transit Connect42223709+13.8%15,22616,914-10.0%GMC Savana41241906+116%11,9366320+88.9%Mercedes-Benz Sprinter22641828+23.9%92827517+23.5%Nissan NV1475971+51.9%62315148+21.0%Nissan NV2001203341+253%4564588+676%Ram Cargo Van768977-21.4%38083452+10.3%Ram ProMaster1033——4576———— —————Total 39,18030,656 +27.8% 142,116 124,456 +14.2%
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4 of 12 comments
  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jun 11, 2014

    Is it possible to get a passenger wagon version of the ProMaster (not a fan of the name, FWIW) yet?

    • See 1 previous
    • Joebaldheadedgranny Joebaldheadedgranny on Jun 11, 2014

      @danio3834 Check out the reconfigurable flooring setup from the folks at MobilityWorks. Talk about flexibility!

  • Eggsalad Eggsalad on Jun 11, 2014

    I think you have an editing error in the 2nd paragraph, where the Nissan reference should be to the NV2500/3500, not the NV200.

  • Wjtinfwb Poor cousin to the Blazer & Bronco that dominated this segment. The 1st Gen Ramcharger was a much better and better looking truck, with the 440 available and without the AMC Pacer style real windows. The Bronco and Blazer felt and looked much more modern and cohesive than the Mopar's, and that's not saying very much. Probably attractive to the Mopar faithful but for the rest of us... No thanks at any price.
  • Not Ford will have a great reckoning with its EV production goals. Their EVs haven’t been as popular as initially anticipated and have been dealing quality issues (persistent recalls on Mach E) or disappointing performance (cold weather and towing greatly diminishing range on Lightning).Their top selling vehicle remains the ICE powered F-series. Consumers will only tolerate so much price increase as Ford tries to subsidize the massive losses it incurs with EV production. Being forced to eat profit off of 2-3 ICE F-series to offset losses from a single Lightning will quickly prove to be unsustainable business. This is the very same company that abandoned cars entirely to focus on more profitable trucks.
  • LYNN DELANEY Mine is a 2001 Pure White Miata. I bought it at Concord Mazda. I love it but Imay be about to get rid of it I guess. It's been in my garage for quite awhile. Why? 1. I don't have a lot of money (I'm a retired teacher) And I've had issues with it that require financing. For example when you insert the key and turn it nothing happens. Why? I got it at Concord Mazda and somehow. it came to my condo shared garage to die and has remained such to this day. If you want to experience it you put the key in the keyhole and turn it but silence ensues and you wonder why but you know it's because the key was "programmed and it worked when you brought it home but not since.I'm told it requires a new battery but I've not had the financial energy to deal with it. I love my Miata but will I keep it? I'm unsure. Next step? Install a new battery...When it came home from Concord Mazda it was perfect for a quick minute. I tested it. I drove it around my block in Oakland, California just one time. That was the end of it. Since them I'm told it needs a new battery. It's a 2001. Shall I go ahead and splurge?
  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai