Small Vans Take 26% Of U.S. Commercial Van Market In January 2015

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
small vans take 26 of u s commercial van market in january 2015

Ford’s second-generation Transit Connect is losing market share at a furious rate.

However, that’s not a valid commentary on the Transit Connect, but rather a side effect of a revolution in the small commercial van category.

Transit Connect sales jumped 72% in the first month of 2015 to the highest January level in the model’s brief history. 55% of the small commercial van category belonged to the Transit Connect in January 2015, down from 71% in January 2014 despite the Transit Connect’s 1543-unit improvement.

The cause for the Ford’s market share losses? The established competition – rival vans which were on sale a year ago – posted even greater percentage gains. Added to that are new vans: a twin of the Nissan NV200 from Chevrolet, and a Fiat Doblo-based ProMaster City from Ram.

These four Transit Connect alternatives collectively produced a 231% year-over-year improvement to 2963 sales, 726 units shy of the Ford’s total.

Small Commercial VanJanuary2015January2014% ChangeChevrolet City Express 585——Ford Transit Connect 3,6892,14671.9%Nissan NV2001,184540119%Ram Cargo Van 1,101355210%Ram ProMaster City 93——————Total6,6523,041119%

January was just the second full month on the market for the City Express. 1115 have been sold since the tail end of November. Inventory is improving. City Express sales will climb. And it will be interesting to see the long-term split between the City Express and its donor vehicle, the Nissan NV200.

19,188 NV200s have been sold since the smaller Nissan van arrived at the end of 2013’s first-quarter. December was the NV200’s best month yet, with 1532 sales.

Ram’s Cargo Van, a windows-blanked-out Dodge Grand Caravan, returned in the latter half of 2011. Sales consistently improve: up 26% in 2013, up 27% in 2014, and up in each of the last seven months. The highest-volume month in the current-generation’s tenure was November of last year when 1709 were sold. January was the first month for the ProMaster City, the little brother for the Fiat Ducato-based ProMaster.

There will be versions of these vans used by drivers who don’t work for couriers or as plumbers, even some which will end up in family driveways as true minivans. (The “real” minivan market was down 7% to 30,831 units in January.) Yet taken as a sub-segment of the commercial van category, these vans were a big reason for the segment’s massive 35% improvement in January 2015.

Their combined share grew from 16% in January 2014 and 21% in December 2014 to 26% in January 2015. The Transit Connect ranked second overall, only trailing another Ford, the new Transit.

Total commercial van volume was up by 6566 units last month. This smaller quintet contributed 3611 extra sales. The full-size group increased by fewer than 3000 sales. And the little kids aren’t done yet. The Mercedes-Benz Metris will attempt to find a niche between the small vans and full-size players when it’s eventually re-assembled in South Carolina.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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  • HenrySmith12 HenrySmith12 on Feb 11, 2015

    These small vans are great. I can see why someone might want to own one of them. car buyers michigan they seem to be really spacious but with less of the gas burden or bulky appearance of full size suvs, so I can definitely understand their market.

  • Tedb72 Tedb72 on Feb 11, 2015

    I bought a '14 Transit Connect long wheelbase cargo van with liftgate in September for my small business. So far, I've really liked it. It actually drives very well for a van, and I've averaged just under 25mpg in mixed driving. The 2.5 is basically the same engine as my old Mazda 3, so I know I can work on it.

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