Until a few years ago, North American buyers looking to purchase smaller, compact cargo vans had five brands to choose from – Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, RAM, Nissan and Ford. Unfortunately, their choices seem to have shrunk from five to (almost) zero over the course of only three years.
Smaller cargo vans all offered space to transport cargo along with a compact size to ensure better manoeuvrability in tight city streets and smaller parking confines. Additionally, the sliding doors allowed for easy loading and unloading. While the combination seemed ideal for urban delivery businesses, it never caught on heavily in the North American marketplace.
What Vans Will Be Taken Off The Market?
- It started in 2018, when Chevrolet discontinued the City Express, the brand’s small commercial van model.
- Three years later, Nissan ended the production of its compact cargo van NV200.
- Earlier this year, reports suggested that Ford would discontinue their Transit Connect compact cargo van model by the end of next year. According to Automotive News, the brand has cancelled plans to build the vehicle’s next model in Mexico.
- A few weeks later, it was reported that RAM will discontinue its ProMaster City small cargo van after the 2022 model year.
- These cancellations follow a similar announcement from Mercedes-Benz, as the brand announced it will end sales of its Metris van in the United States following the van’s 2023 model year.
What’s Causing Automakers to Discontinue Small Vans?
Declining demand and sales for these compact cargo vans appears to be the primary reason. Sales of smaller commercial vans have been declining steadily for the past few years. For example, the Transit Connect sold 41,598 units in the U.S. in 2019, but managed to move just 26,112 in 2021; both of these figures pale in comparison to the full-size Transit, which racked up over 130,000 sales in both 2019 and 2020. By the midpoint of this year, Mercedes-Benz sold just 4,934 Metris vans, while RAM moved only 4,044 ProMaster City vans. RAM’s ProMaster City moved 14,759 units for 2021, so the sales pace is down considerably. 
What Options Should Fleet Managers and Tradesmen Consider Now?
With the marketplace rapidly changing, it can be challenging for fleet managers and business owners to evaluate and understand their alternatives. Here are some options to consider:
- Upgrade to Larger Vans and Take Advantage of The Extra Space: It appears that in the near term, automakers in North America will focus on full-size vans and electrification. Fleet managers and business owners may want to consider upgrading to larger vans and take advantage of the additional space to optimize their fleets and operations.
- Small Pickup Trucks with a Cap: If the convenience and manoeuvrability of smaller vans is important to your business, consider small pickup trucks with a cap as a great alternative to compact cargo vans. Truck caps offer several benefits like increased security, greater fuel efficiency and even improved space, since you have the option to install shelving on the sliding bed.
- Explore The Used Market: Turning to the used market to expand your fleet is another alternative to cope with the shifting market trends. Used compact cargo vans may come with a handy upfit or can be custom-upfitted just like new vans to suit your business needs.
- Evaluate New EVs: The electrification of fleets has started to transform the market and companies like Ford and Canoo have launched the E-Transit and Canoo LVD to cater to the increasing demand for electric vans across North America. As you look to maximize efficiency across your operation, it will serve you well to evaluate emerging EVs for your business needs.
As the market place changes rapidly, Ranger Design is committed to supporting the last compact vans off the lot and helping customers through this transition. Whether you are looking for high-quality, custom upfit for used compact cargo vans or ways to optimize your current compact cargo fleet, our Product Specialists are available for guidance. Contact us today to learn more!