By on September 13, 2021

The plain white van you see here is the subject of our second edition of Abandoned History. Though it was produced and sold domestically as eStar by Navistar, it was actually developed in England years prior. In fact, the story of this electric van begins with the traditional black London taxi.

(Read More…)

By on March 4, 2020

gm

Kurt Cobain had only been dead a year when General Motors launched the Chevrolet Express family of commercial and passenger vans. Two and a half decades later, the Express is still in its first generation, with the model’s sole facelift now 17 years distant.

Despite facing ever stiffer competition from the likes of Ford, the Express and its GMC twin, the Savana, remain an important product for GM, with the Express selling over 77,000 units in 2019. It’s far less refined than the Ford Transit, but it’s tough. GM ditched the half-ton chassis after 2015, focusing on three-quarter and 1-ton variants ever since.

The model, paid off by the time Y2K became a concern, isn’t being completely taken for granted by its parent. For 2021, the Express family sees moar power. (Read More…)

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.  (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2018

We’re always surprised with what counts as a van in Europe. For example, Ford just showcased a new one based on the Fiesta at the Birmingham Commercial Vehicle Show — and it’s kind of wonderful. However, we’re unlikely to see it on our roads. A vehicle like this makes almost no sense for the North American market.

In fact, I can only think of a handful of applications for such an automobile: high-volume pizza delivery, flower delivery, amateur plumber, organ transport, and pet grooming for a business that only takes modestly sized animals. But they would all have to take place in an extremely-dense urban environment to rationalize the use of such a small vehicle. Otherwise, business owners are going to splurge on a proper small van like the Transit Connect.  (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2018

While North America awaits Tesla Motors’ electrified big rig, the rest of the globe’s manufacturers are working on battery driven commercial vehicles of their own. These vehicles may not be able to match the Tesla’s size or ability to do burnouts, but their existence shows companies are taking electrification seriously.

FedEx, which has already reserved a handful of the Tesla trucks, bragged it would soon deploy Navistar-sourced electric trucks way back in 2010. However, with the exception of ultra-dense urban environments and shipping hubs, these units haven’t see a lot of action. For the most part, the addition of zero-emission vehicles seem like a good way for companies to virtue signal and test the feasibility of such a platform in a commercial setting. For example, UPS issued a press release in February saying it wanted to develop 50 battery electric vans that might someday replace its fleet of 35,000 gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles.

Still, there’s momentum building behind alternative energy vehicles in the commercial sector. Daimler-owned Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation started the slow rollout of its eCanter courier truck last September. It probably won’t break any sales records for the brand, but it does show manufacturers’ desire to not just develop, but sell these things at a meaningful volume — and it’s soon to be followed by Volvo Trucks’ brand new FL Electric. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2018

hino truck assembly

Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp are forming a truck-based alliance, allegedly to cut R&D costs. While the two automakers joust for the title of biggest in the world, their trucking arms must have had a rough 2017 to necessitate an alliance solely on the grounds to limit development expenditures… right?

Not exactly. Volkswagen Truck & Bus actually had a really good year. Strong sales pushed revenues up 12.1 percent, and operating profits before special items increased by 26.8 percent (for over $2.41 billion). Meanwhile, Toyota’s Hino saw operating profits improve by 21.5 percent. So why bother with the alliance of both truck builders saw strong returns based on their respective sizes? (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2018

2017 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: Chevrolet

Stop thinking about roadsters. To the best of our knowledge, General Motors has no plans to enter the burgeoning electric sports car market, and we pray it wouldn’t be a front-drive model if it did.

No, the two-seater Chevrolet Bolt we speak of remains pretty much unchanged when viewed from the outside. Inside, however, there’s plenty of space to stretch out behind the front seats, as those are the only seats you’ll find. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

Volkswagen-Amarok-2017-1024-01

Move over Chevrolet, Ram and Ford?

It’s hard to say if American van and truck builders have anything to worry about after the head of Volkswagen’s commercial vehicles division publicly mused about jumping into the U.S. market. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

Navistar TransStar

Volkswagen’s commercial vehicles division is eager to enter the U.S. heavy truck market, and it just found a partner to help pull it off.

Volkswagen Truck & Bus has announced it will buy a 16.6 percent stake in U.S. truck maker Navistar International Corp., a share buy worth $256 million. Both companies hope to save money (and make more of it) through the technology-sharing deal, with joint products on the horizon. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2015

fordtransit01-1346892939 (1)

Wake up, ladies and gentlemen, and listen to the happy news: we are in an automotive renaissance. The kind of renaissance that comes around but once every decade or two; the kind that’s accompanied by new designs and new powertrains and new features and new competition.

I am referring, of course, to the cargo van renaissance.

I’m not sure if you’ve realized it, but that’s exactly what’s going on around us: a renaissance of cargo vans. An explosion of new models, and new segments, and new powertrains, and new features, and new designs. When we look back years from now, we will all agree that the cargo van segment was forever changed by the years 2014 and 2015.

(Read More…)

By on March 19, 2015

2014-volkswagen-amarok-canyon-front-three-quarter-view-1

Long ago, Volkswagen once sold (non-Chrysler) vans, utes and trucks in the United States. Those days may come again.

(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2015

Lexus Autonomous Car

Seven years from now, commercial and industrial autonomous vehicles could set a path toward a a future where the cityscape and beyond are radically changed.

(Read More…)

By on February 17, 2015

Hyundai Trago Xcient

Hyundai is preparing to enter the U.S. commercial vehicle market through an investment plan to strengthen its current commercial business by 2020.

(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 October 15, 2014

SAIC bus

Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools.

(Read More…)

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