By on February 10, 2015

2014 Ford Transit ConnectFord’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 Van
January
2015
January
2014
% Change
Chevrolet City Express
 585
Ford Transit Connect
 3,689 2,146 71.9%
Nissan NV200
1,184 540 119%
Ram Cargo Van
 1,101 355 210%
Ram ProMaster City
 93
Total
6,652 3,041 119%

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.

2015 Ram ProMaster CityThere 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 GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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21 Comments on “Small Vans Take 26% Of U.S. Commercial Van Market In January 2015...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It would be nice to see more three-row versions of these. Currently, only Ford sells a three-row Transit Connect. Chrysler does have a two-row Ram ProMaster City and the Chevy City Express is one-row only.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Ford site has so many options for the TC. Almost everything is a la carte. The only thing I don’t like about the LWB/3 row Transit connect is that it is only avialable with the 2.5L I4. I guess that would be adequate, but a SWB version with the 1.6T will tow my small sail boat or jet skis.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    Bring back my Astro Van!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Do you want GM to bring back it’s 1-star crash test rating too? I wonder how the Astro would do in the small overlap test? I’m assuming that the IIHS wouldn’t be able to recognize the crash test dummy. Maybe Nissan Quest owners wouldn’t feel so bad about their death traps anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        I’ve been driving them for 25 years. The trick is just don’t hit anything.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I will say that I still see a few of them on construction sites. They went out of production 10 years ago too. They are hardy vehicles that seem to go forever under terrible abuse.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            I worked for a Chevy dealer in the truck dept in 2006 and many loyal customers were quite pissed when they canceled them.

          • 0 avatar
            CobraJet

            We have had 3 of them. It’s all my wife wants to drive. She says visibility is poor in modern SUV’s and CUV’s and doesn’t want one. We currently have a loaded 2002 GMC Safari SLT and are probably one of very few who use them for family transportation. In my area they are a favorite of painting contractors and the like. You can strap a lot of ladders on top, and they do seem to run forever.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    These things are absolutely everywhere here in Portland, ME. Even the sorts of tradesman who you would expect to be driving pickups are driving TCs, like the roofers who did my house and garage last year. Two TCs, one towing a small trailer was all they needed. All the materials were delivered by the vendor, so all they needed to bring was themselves, tools and ladders. Furnace guy has had one since they first came out, as has a friend who is a high end appliance repair guy.

    Starting to see tons of the RAMs too, but only a handful of Nissans.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      That is also pretty much the scene in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. When we came out of the resteraunt last night, I saw a three row Transit Connect for the first time, and pointed it out to my oldest son. We both thought it looked pretty neat.

  • avatar
    Joss

    These things aren’t cheap. Lets see which way the price of gas sways this sector.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Yet more affirmation that everybody wants a minivan. By any other name.

  • avatar
    HenrySmith12

    These small vans are great. I can see why someone might want to own one of them. http://www.carbuyersmichigan.com 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.

  • avatar
    tedb72

    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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