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.
Today’s Rare Ride is the more streamlined successor to the dorky Stanza Wagon, or Multi if you’re Canadian. I mentioned Axxess as a Rare Ride back in 2017 with the Stanza article, and today’s the day we present it properly.
Come along for some versatile Sport Wagon goodness.
Recently Rare Rides featured a very clean example of the DKW Schnellaster van from 1956. The front-drive and transverse-engine layout of the Schnellaster previewed in the Forties the basic format of the family minivan that would arrive over three decades later.
Among the standard Schnellasters produced, there was an even rarer variant: An electric version, as DKW experimented with the possibilities of early EV tech.
On Tuesday, Mercedes announced it would be pouring roughly $59 million (€50 million) to build the all-electric Sprinter van at three facilities. One of them will is the American MBV factory in Ladson, South Carolina, with the remaining two sites naturally situated in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, Germany.
Over 200,000 Sprinter and Metris model vans have been assembled in the United States since 2006, though the automaker had actually been using the state to avoid the chicken tax for much longer. Considering the region is the second-largest market for Sprinter vans, Mercedes is not interested in dissolving its American commitments either. The investment will be spread across the three facilities for the necessary tooling to build the EV variant the automaker already started selling in Europe.