U.S. Commercial Van Sales Are Up 17% In 2014

For every 1000 new vehicles sold by automobile manufacturers through the first seven months of 2014, 22 have been commercial vans.

Sure, some of those vans – the Transit Connect Wagons, Sprinter RVs, amazingly large families who need a 15-passenger Econoline – aren't driven by plumbers or as airport shuttles. But the 2.2% figure applies regardless.

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But while it's been available in some small measure since June, you probably haven't seen a new Ford Transit yet. And it's going to be a while before it becomes a common sight, and then a while longer for generations of Ford E-Series vans to appear overshadowed to your counting eyes; on the road.

Ford's own E-Series, of course, is the van of choice. GM's vans account for half the sales not collected by the E-Series. The trio of small vans, soon to be joined by the Fiat Doblo-based Ram ProMaster City and the NV200-based Chevrolet City Express, generate 17.4% of the category's sales.

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Is this an exciting category? Perhaps not, though some of the vans are surprisingly pleasant to pilot. But it's certainly a financially meaningful category both to automakers (particularly Ford and General Motors) and especially to small business owners. And, of course, large business owners. Stand up and show us your Sprinter fleet, FedEx.

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There may also be no new vehicle category which has seen, and will continue to see, such an overhaul over such a short period of time. If, for example, the minivan category was this completely revamped over the span of three years, we'd see numerous automakers reentering the segment with truly mini-minivans, multiple powertain options on individual nameplates, and Euro-centric products popping out of showroom doors across the country.

And the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country would still be generating the bulk of the segment's sales.

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