If you’ve travelled abroad and marveled at rigs like the factory-built luxury vans (that aren’t industrial-grade Sprinters) tasked with shuttling and chauffeuring, you may be interested to learn Mercedes-Benz is planning to sell such machines in America. In addition to setting its sights on that relatively untapped market in this neck of the woods, Stuttgart is readying the roll-out of its all-electric van architecture.
Mercedes-Benz has officially debuted the all-electric version of the Sprinter and confirmed it will arrive in the United States sometime after the summer solstice. While the van will come in an array of formats to suit varying cargo needs, the initial run will be the long wheelbase variant with the highest roof and largest battery the Germans have to offer. But different versions are said to be forthcoming. Storage in the eSprinter seems to be more or less on par with its combustion-driven counterpart, though it cannot hold quite as much weight due to the heft of the battery pack. Range likewise seems useful, though the electric van will undoubtedly be better suited to localized delivery routes than any long-haul jobs.
There are two types of people in this world, those that dislike vans and those who have come to the realization that they’re probably the most versatile vehicles money can buy. While vans may not be ideal for every single situation, they can slot into just about any application with a level of ease other vehicles could only dream of. But there are super specialized variants, with converted campers being among the most popular.
While not as popular as the full-sized Ford Transit, the smaller Transit Connect makes an excellent vehicle for small business owners and families that want something that offers an abundance of cargo space but is still easy to park. Though it doesn't seem that enough of those people existed in North America because the automaker has reportedly opted to make the model a European exclusive after 2023.
Reports that Mercedes would be removing its Metris van from the U.S. market emerged over the weekend, with the German automaker confirming the decision.
Despite carrying a larger price tag than the competition (starting around $35,000), the Metris often compares favorably from behind the wheel when the maximum cargo capacity and price aren't the chief concerns. Unfortunately, those tend to be very important items when people are shopping for working vehicles and the Metris' sales numbers have reflected that. Mercedes has struggled to reach 10,000 deliveries annually and the Metris volume is routinely bested by models like the smaller Ford Transit Connect or the ancient, full-size Chevrolet Express.
Word on the street is that General Motors will be discontinuing its existing full-size vans to make way for electrified alternatives. While the gut reaction may be to recoil in disgust at the very premise that Euro vans would dare usurp the rightful place of one of the most venerable working vehicles in North America, it might be worth remembering that the Ford Transit has managed to supplant the Econoline/E-Series rather effectively.
While often derided as highly unfashionable, minivans really are the Swiss Army knife of vehicles. They’re people haulers, cargo carriers, mobile campsites, and can even improvise as work vehicles for when a utility van (the Leatherman of vehicles) is unavailable. Minivans also drive more like cars than the brutes occupying the SUV and pickup segment, making them easier for some drivers to live with.
With vans having enjoyed a cultural renaissance during the 1970s, minivans hit the ground running in the mid-1980s and continued to swell in popularity until the millennium. By then, North Americans were buying an estimated 1.5 million minivans a year. But that’s also where society decided to apply the brakes. Sport utility vehicles and crossovers have effectively supplanted the van as the default family conveyance — though recent sales figures have suggested those dying flames are now being rekindled.
Ford’s commercial vehicle arm has been teasing the upcoming Tourneo Custom EV ahead of its formal debut on May 9th, 2022. Ford Pro is eager to expand its lineup of all-electric light commercial vehicles and has already started production of the E-Transit, making the Euro-focused Tourneo the next model queued to be juiced up.
Utility vans are fantastic vehicles, though many people still walk the Earth tragically untouched by the divine knowledge of unparalleled versatility. They see vans un-sexily driving about in their basic hues with nothing to gawk at, having clearly forgotten it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But Ram is throwing them a bone with the revised 2023 ProMaster by giving the formerly ugliest small van a complete makeover.
That means updated headlamps and a revised front fascia that makes the vehicle look more like the kind of vehicle European terrorists might use in an action flick, rather than some wide-eyed fish. Though there is also a gaggle of new technology inclusions and meaningful configurations designed to make the van better suited to individual needs/tastes — showing that style and substance don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
It seems like we’ve been waiting forever, however, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has announced over social media that the 2024 ID.Buzz Microbus will be revealed on March 9th. After a few weeks of the manufacturer teasing new details of the all-electric van, Diess shared some concept sketches of the model on Thursday before confirming the exact date when “the legend returns.”
Ever since the 1998 model year, Toyota has sold a big, American-style minivan with the engine in the front and cupholders throughout the interior. Prior to that, though, American Toyota shoppers looking for a new van had to take an innovative mid-engined machine designed entirely with the Japanese home market in mind: First the TownAce (known as the Van here) and then the Estima (known as the Previa here). The Previa was too small and too underpowered to compete head-to-head with Detroit minivans, but those who bought them found that they lasted for decade after decade. Here’s one in a Denver-area yard that got pretty close to the magical 400,000-mile mark.
While the Ram ProMaster vans may be a few steps behind their rivals in terms of towing, it’s quite competitive when you stick to the more basic trims. The ProMaster shines brightest when left in its more basic configurations but gets left behind when you start cross-shopping something else and decide you’re willing to spend more money to get all-wheel drive, a larger cargo hold, or increased gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR). Despite being a great option for budget-conscious delivery firms, tradesmen, or someone looking to DIY a recreational vehicle, the Ram can’t be optioned to spread its wings quite as broadly as its competitors.
However, the manufacturer is hoping to entice customers with several new tech inclusions for the 2022 model year, including an upgraded nine-speed transmission and a new dashboard.
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