By on July 16, 2018

General Motors has officially confirmed the discontinuation of the Chevrolet City Express work van, which the automaker has sourced from Nissan since 2014. Its sister vehicle, the Nissan NV200, is one of the many vehicles you see serving as a replacement for the Ford Crown Victoria in New York City’s taxi fleet.

However, the City Express is a vehicle you’ve probably never noticed, as they don’t sell particularly well. General Motors moved 8,348 in the United States for 2017, which — believe it or not — was one of its better years. Meanwhile, Ford had a pretty mediocre year with its Transit Connect, managing only 34,473 deliveries. It looks like General Motors is willing to concede the segment to its Blue Oval rival as the NV200 soldiers on sans the Chevy badge. 

Considering the abysmal sales record of the City Express, this confirmation isn’t a huge surprise. Dealers reported losing the ability to place orders for the compact commercial van and were informed to stop taking orders from customers last year. There were also gripes about the lack of compatibility with GM parts, since it’s essentially a rebranded Nissan.

According to Automotive News, assembly officially ended in February with General Motors only acknowledging the model’s discontinuation recently. We already knew it was a goner, but the automaker wasn’t making much noise about it at the time.

A spokesman for GM declined to comment on reasons for the move or if the vehicle is expected to be replaced. Either way, the decision won’t affect the company’s bigger, body-on-frame Chevrolet Express or GMC Savana — both of which outsold the City Express multiple times over.

[Images: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

36 Comments on “General Motors Acknowledges Corpse of Chevrolet City Express...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I have seen a couple of them in the wild. Looks better than the Nissan version (the front seems cleaner), but that defiantly isn’t saying much.

    What I did’t understand, when this vehicle was announced, is why GM didn’t develop its own contender off the Cruze platform. I suppose since they have (since) divested themselves of Europe (where these types of vans sell very well), there isn’t much use in developing one in-house. Judging by the (lack of) sales of this rebadged Nissan, it seems they dodged a bullet.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I thought these did OK in Asia too.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        If so (and I’m not saying they don’t), you’d expect the Koreans would be all over it. So far as I know, the only cargo van from them is the Hyundai H-1, which is similar in size to the big Transit (as opposed to the Connect).

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I have seen a few, and I’m always struck by how narrow they are. More than a single occupant would be really uncomfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      GM’s former Euro branch never bothered to develop their own commercial vehicles either, they sourced theirs from Renault/Nissan and Fiat instead. Not huge successes, very much unlike the original Renaults and Fiats. I think I can see a pattern there — and it’s not that small commercial vans don’t sell (they’re all over the place here), it’s that GM’s heart never was in it.

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        “GM’s former Euro branch never bothered to develop their own commercial vehicles”

        Absolute lies and untruths. They developed many of their own vans.

        The Bedford HA was a Vauxhall Viva wagon panelled in as a van.
        The Bedford CF/Opel Blitz was pure GM/Vauxhall.
        (OK the Midi replacement was an Isuzu Wafer. And it’s replacement was a Renault van. But the CF was their own doing.)

        And they did develop the Vauxhall/Opel Combo – essentially a Vauxhall/Opel Corsa with a box van rear. (Though the latest model is a Fiat aka RAM Promaster City!) And the Astra van (a GM Astra with a van rear) was renowned in the UK as being one of the quickest vehicles on the freeway (in practice rather than on paper…) and is still very much sought after by van enthusiasts.

        Their current range lists the Corsa van – very much an ex-GM product, basically a Vauxhall/Opel Corsa with panelled rear windows.

        • 0 avatar
          Ermel

          I didn’t consider ancient history to be relevant in this discussion. The last commercial vehicle of GM’s own doing was the Combo microvan based on the Corsa C, introduced in 2001, discontinued in 2011. Once class up it was the Bedford Blitz, introduced in 1969, discontinued in 1988.

          Which, although a long time ago, is not exactly “never”, I’ll grant you that. My apologies.

  • avatar
    ernest

    In the US, miniature vans seem the be the answer to the question no one asked.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      So how is it that Ford sells a pretty fair number of Transit Connects? Enough to warrant a second generation, as well as certifying a diesel to add to the line-up next year. And Nissan sells them, as does Ram, they all seem to think there is a business case for selling them here. Clearly, Ford and FCA are not afraid to discontinue unprofitable models, yet neither has indicated they’re dropping the little vans.

      Chevy’s rebadge is the only entry that failed miserably. Whether or not it’s because it sounds like you’re saying “Chevy $#¡ГГ¥ Express” when saying it out loud, who is to say? LOL

      And no, during the recession, nobody was asking for a way to move smaller loads of cargo without having to use a 14 mpg BOF van that is cumbersome to drive and hard to park. That must be why the Transit Connect was so unsuccessful, so horribly unsuccessful that it inspired others to bring their own versions to our market.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        I understand in these days of bad ford news everywhere ( see recent sales in China – yikes! ) the fan boys must celebrate any win against Chevy, but GM is better off devoting resources to building a competitor to the larger transit.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          I understand that in the times of having nothing to contribute to the subject at hand, trolling me is all you can do, so please carry on if it makes you feel more important and relevant. I mean, you’re totally, right, Ford needs a win against Chevy SO BAD, what with outselling them in virtually every segment they compete in and all. Very perceptive of you, even though my comment was on the market segment in general, not on a “win” for Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      I’d seriously think about a SWB Connect for my next DD, considering no one is going to make me a mini truck.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I have said before, I think Ford, Nissan and FCA should make small pickup trucks out of these vans. With the 4 cylinder diesel coming to the T.C., that would be a sweet little high-MPG run-about.

    • 0 avatar

      Meh. There are plenty of businesses that need to move small amounts of cargo that they want to keep dry. Auto parts delivery, florists, etc. Or technicians who need to have some tools and replacement components with them, but not enough to fill a larger van.

      And in a city, having a small, easy to park vehicle is a plus.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Technicians with tools was what I saw them being used most by at the recent job at a power plant we were on. Very tight and confined areas behind the unit we were working on, yet the elevator repairman, as one example, was able to get his T.C. right where he needed it to repair the freight elevator we used so much (put it this way, cheers and applause could he heard when his vehicle came around the corner, I know I was sick of carrying heavy boxes up nine-twelve flights of stairs).

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I don’t have any need for a vehicle of this type, but I like the idea of a mini-van that is actually mini. I laugh at the oxymoronic classification of full-sized mini-van.

    My family has had 5 or 6 “mini-vans” all based on trucks. We’ve had 5 Aerostars and an Astro, mostly not concurrently. At one point my mom and my brother had separate Aerostars and at another point my mom and I had the vans (I had an Eddie Bauer Aerostar and she had an Astro). I bought mine for dirt cheap from a friend. They never really fit the mini part of the name.

  • avatar
    ernest

    OK- YTD Ford sold 71,412 transits, 25,505 E-Series, and 15,424 Connects. So, that makes big vans 8:1 vs. compacts, and Ford is the only manufacturer that’s figured out how to sell compacts in any number. Nissan sold 9K NV200’s, and Dodge sold under 5K of the little Promasters.

    Put another way, the ratio is pretty consistently 7:1, and Ford is the niche market leader by a country mile.

    http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2018/07/commercial-van-sales-in-america-june-2018/

    If your wondering why- commercial vehicle puchases are driven primarily by math, not practicality or emotion. Cost per mile of the big van kills the compacts- simple as that.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      “Cost per mile of the big van kills the compacts- simple as that.” But surely the small van will be cheaper to own and run than the big one? So if you just don’t need the additional space and/or load, and frequently drive in cities, why should you get the big one, even if it is cheaper per pound/cubic foot per mile or whatever?

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        Ermel, you’re assuming the cost/mile of the small van is less than that of the big van. I don’t have the numbers myself but I would wager that you’re making in incorrect assumption.

        The NV200 van has a poor service reputation. My father was looking into one to drive to job sites to keep mileage down on his Odyssey when he was with a contractor that didn’t offer company vehicles and was appalled at the number of complaints of tire-chewing and inability to align and incidinces of vehicle fires. I’ve personally seen an NV200 ablaze roadside.

        On top of that, Express vans with up to 200k miles have substantial resale value. These tiny city vans have far worse depreciation. Depreciation is what really drives the operating cost per mile, far more than initial purchase price or fuel economy.

        And why would small vs. large matter for city operation? Cities the world over have buses for public transit and even the largest commercial vans are smaller and more maneuverable than a city bus. I’ve seen potholes in Washington, D.C. that could swallow most of an NV200 but wouldn’t bend a wheel on a full-size truck/van.

        • 0 avatar
          Ermel

          City buses don’t need to find parking spots.

          If the NV 200/City Express turns out to be as expensive to run as a full-sized GM van, that speaks only against this particular vehicle, not against the whole class of vehicles making sense, which I understood Ernest to have suggested.

          In Europe, there are plenty of VW Caddy, Peugeot Partner/Citroen Berlingo, Fiat Doblo/Opel Combo, Fort Transit Connect, and similar small vans on the streets — you can hardly cross the street in a city without seeing one –, and they certainly are cheaper than the bigger vans of VW Transporter or even Mercedes Sprinter size, both to buy and to run — they share a good part of their mechanics (and their price point) with compact hatchbacks, after all. Such vehicles would make just as much sense for US businesses as they obviously do for European ones.

          The reason? Ernest said it himself: “commercial vehicle puchases are driven primarily by math, not practicality or emotion.”

          • 0 avatar
            Ermel

            Sorry about that “Fort” typo. That’s what happens if you have to rush editing comments within that five minute time limit. By no means did I mean to suggest throwing that Ford away, “ich sagte nicht: wirf ihn fort”. ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          LMAO really? There are city busses, so that means big vans are cool? How many city busses need to back into tight loading docks, maneuver small parking areas and alleys behind businesses? I’ve seen some wild, out-of-touch arguments here before, but that takes the cake.

          Oh and depreciation, because resale value trumps all. These aren’t Camrys and Accords we are talking about here. Most fleet vehicles tend to get used up, their value is in the service they provide, not how much they can be sold for later.

          Your contentions are made as though you have no experience whatsoever outside of occasionally seeing a van drive by you on the street.

          I’m glad nobody, and I mean NOBODY, drives anything smaller than an Expedition or Tahoe in D.C., lest they get swallowed up by giant potholes.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            John, I work in fleet management, and depreciation is absolutely a concern. Yes, you could run a vehicle until it’s absolutely used up, but at that point, you’re also operating a vehicle which is more likely to incur repairs and downtime (neither of which are desirable, especially if the downtime is unplanned). So if you’re not going to run a vehicle for its total life, at that point you’ve got to figure out the optimum point to sell, to minimize depreciation per month. For what it’s worth, at the average monthly depreciation our Expresses/Savanas are running, we’d have to run them over 12 years with no extra repairs to save money, rather than selling them when we do.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Point taken.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      15,424 = nobody, I guess.

      I didn’t claim these were more popular than big vans. I didn’t claim they set sales charts on fire. I only said that they DO sell some, and that for some, they’re the right vehicle for the job.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    So nobody could order one because dealers wouldn’t stock them because they’d have to stock Nissan parts?

    And GM is wondering why nobody bought them?

    And the ex-GM Europe equivalent is being sold as a RAM Promaster City, so they can’t even poach that!

    The only other alternative is the Chinese van being sold as the N200 in South America.

    • 0 avatar
      Ermel

      There’s always the Opel Vivaro (Renault Trafic/Nissan NV 300) and Movano (Renault Master/Nissan NV 400) as sold in Europe, but that wouldn’t much help with the foreign parts situation — they’d just be less puny vehicles, more likely to appeal to US customers. But if the dealers won’t support Nissan-sourced vehicles, there’s not much sense in trying.

      Since Opel has been sold to PSA, the successors to these vehicles for Opel/Vauxhall in Europe will likely be based on the Peugeot Expert/Citroen Jumpy and Peugeot Boxer/Citroen Jumper respectively, which currently are related to Toyota and Fiat/RAM models, but who knows what alliances the next generation will bring.

      So since Opel is now divorced from GM and remarried to PSA, and both FCA and Ford are doing their own thing on both sides of the pond, that leaves GM sort of out there in the cold — there are hardly any other makers to form alliances to except Renault/Nissan, which apparantyl doesn’t work out. No wonder they’re pulling out now and concentrating on where the money is, i.e. big BOF vehicles.

      I can’t help but wonder if that’ll turn out to have been short-sighted, but I’ve been wrong before.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Nobody could order one after GM decided to discontinue the model last year.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    -moderated-

  • avatar
    IanGTCS

    I think I have seen one of these driving around, and had to look up what it was when that happened. I honestly didn’t realize that they were still on sale, and haven’t noticed one since that first sighting. I also don’t know if I have ever seen the nissan version, although I do notice a fair number of full size Nissan vans.

    The connect is really common around here, probably at least 10-1 over the ram for small vans.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Local Nissan dealer just delivered 22 NV200 to a regional utility company. Utility tested small number of City Express for 2 years and moved the order to Nissan when Chevrolet stopped selling these. I was shocked as the utility has only ordered domestics in the past 30 years plus. 22 is not a huge number. What has been surprising is how much effort Nissan makes in the commercial market for a small number of sales. Nissan is in the commercial market for the long haul, one sale at a time.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: 0. What kind of Continentals? 1. What octane are you planning to use?
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: No! They hate Tesla as a company!
  • Rocket: Panasonic, yes, but with completely different technology. Plus, Panasonic seems to be an unhappy partner in...
  • brettc: It’ll probably just be me, so if it does happen I’ll take my time on the way back and make a...
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Chinese based government backed car firm like they did for Volvo!

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States