By on June 8, 2020

nissan

No, not the minivan market. We’ve covered that at length. We’re talking van vans — the slow-moving ones that used to terrorize your author as a child. (Turns out that media-driven social panic was mostly nothing, but I digress…)

Word comes to us that, as automakers recede from the commercial van segment, Nissan might be prepared to do the same. (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2020

gm

General Motors isn’t confirming a Reuters report that claims the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant will give birth to an electric commercial van. Such a product would give GM a leg up in a fledgling segment that’s yet to be exploited by the likes of Tesla.

Commercial vans aren’t glitzy products, but they do sell in significant numbers. More importantly, rival Ford has released a plug-in hybrid version of its Euro-market Transit Custom and has promised an electric Transit for North American customers for 2022. For a company hoping to match Ford product-for-product, this will not stand. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2018

Image: GM

General Motors, the automaker that once took badge engineering to dizzying new heights, is culling a slow-selling carbon copy from its lineup. The Chevrolet City Express, a small, front-drive panel van you’ll be forgiven for not remembering, will no longer be available to commercial buyers, GM says.

Essentially a Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo with a chrome grille and bowtie badge where the word “Nissan” should be, this body double gave GM a cheap North American entry in a small commercial van market dominated by Ford Motor Company. It seems buyers preferred Ford by a wide margin. Don’t worry, though — there’s still a CVT-equipped van available for repairmen with oddball tastes. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2017

2017 Ford Transit and Transit Connect - Image: Ford

On the surface, little Euro vans seem to make so much sense. Not every contractor needs a football field’s worth of space behind two front seats.

City-friendly exterior dimensions, a more affordable price tag, and four-cylinder fuel economy should, in theory, cause Bob the Builder or Handy Manny to take a serious look.

But enticing as the idea sounds, the value quotient proffered by 2017’s crop of five small commercial vans simply doesn’t add up for the overwhelming majority of commercial van buyers. Sure, the Ford Transit Connect may be a decent deal. But the Ford Transit is a comparatively great deal.

As a result, full-size commercial van sales are consistently on the rise. But small commercial van sales? Plunging like Paul the Plumber. (Read More…)

By on July 27, 2016

Ford Transit Courier, Image: Ford of Europe

Have you ever sat in a Ford Transit Connect and said to yourself, “Gosh, I like this, but it’s just so darn big!“? Well, if Ford’s latest trademark filings are any indication, the Blue Oval might soon have exactly what you’re looking for.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Ford filed trademark applications for two names — “Transit Courier” and “Courier” — on July 22, 2016, hinting at possible Fiesta-based, B-segment vans for North America.

(Read More…)

By on April 29, 2016

2015 Ford Transit

The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van in March 2016 and the first-quarter of 2016, full stop.

Not just the best-selling full-size commercial van. Not just the best-selling commercial van overall. The Ford Transit was America’s best-selling van, besting all of its direct rivals as well as each and every minivan.

Much has been made of the all-American Ford Mustang’s one-month stand in Germany. Even if the Mustang’s “Best-Selling Sports Car In Germany” status is only temporarily grasped, it certainly was a noteworthy turn of events. Meanwhile, Ford of Europe’s long-running commercial van, now Americanized, is dominating on our side of the Atlantic. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2015

2 USA commercial van sales chart April 2015 YTD

Ford Motor Company’s Transit Connect has seen the number of its direct rivals rapidly expand over the last two years. Not only must the Transit Connect fend off challenges from the Nissan NV200, now Chevrolet sells a version of the Nissan Van and FCA has imported the Fiat Doblo as the Ram ProMaster City.

Nevertheless, Ford still owns more than half the market for small commercial vans. Through the first four months of 2015, a period in which small commercial van volume in the United States has increased 58%, the Transit Connect’s market share stood at 55%. True, that’s down from 63% in the equivalent period one year ago. But a year ago, there was no such thing as a Chevrolet City Express or Ram ProMaster City. Moreover, Transit Connect volume has increased dramatically. Its 38% year-over-year improvement translates to 4,201 extra sales for Ford MoCo over just four months. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2015

USA commercial van sales chart March 2015Commercial van sales are on the rise in the United States. But of greater interest than the improvements – total sales jumped 14% to 356,814 units in 2014 and are up 26% to 87,866 year-to-date – is the constant change in the category. (Read More…)

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. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2014

2015 Ram ProMaster City 01

Right now, one can pick up a new Ram ProMaster City for catering tacos and installing cable down Flower Shop Lane. If that’s not enough, however, Ram might soon have a few more tricks up its sleeve.

(Read More…)

By on December 17, 2014

2015 Ford TransitIn November 2014, for the first time in its six-month North American existence, the full-size Ford Transit was America’s best-selling commercial van.

A number of special circumstances made the Transit’s sudden rise to the top of the leaderboard possible, besides an increase in the number of available Transits and, yes, increased demand for the Transit itself. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2014

2015 Ram ProMaster City 01

Pulling up to the intersection of Flower Shop Lane, Contractor Boulevard and Utility Road is the Fiat Doblò-based 2015 Ram ProMaster City, the second van to emerge from Ram’s relationship with Fiat Professional.

(Read More…)

By on June 23, 2014

Nissan e-NV200

Though diesel rules the delivery fleet in Europe, Nissan would like fleet managers to leave oil-burning behind for the all-electric e-NV200.

(Read More…)

By on March 3, 2014

2014 Mercedes Sprinter

With European vans such as the Ford Transit Connect and the Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster finding overwhelming success in the United States commercial van market, Mercedes is preparing its Sprinter to show the competition how it’s done on Floral Shop Lane.

(Read More…)

By on February 28, 2014

Florist Vans

In a sign the broader economy is on an upswing, small business owners who use commercial vans in their business are replacing their aging equipment with new vans, fueling a boom not seen since the start of the Great Recession.

(Read More…)

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