Full-Size Vans: The Next Big Thing?

Transit Chassis II

Sure, full-size pickup truck sales are doing well and are clearly headed in the right direction, but some are saying the next big Thunderdome cage match will be in the full-size van segment. And why not? There is plenty of territory waiting to be conquered.

We're at the 2013 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis this week, and it's no coincidence that both Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster chose this venue to make some big announcements regarding their new full-size van entrants. And although some think the new design shapes are quite ugly, their numerous assets could make them quite attractive to many downsizing, cost-conscious buyers. 

Ford Transit

Transit Chassis Rear II

First, the Transit folks showed their never-before-seen chassis cab option (looking like an ideal candidate for a 10-foot pickup bed), as well as making the announcement that the 3.7-liter V-6 engine in the Transit will be offered in both CNG and Autogas (the latter of which is commonly called LPG or propane).

Both of these offerings will make commercial truck buyers happy, and we fully expect some upfitters to create a custom bed option for the platform in the not-too-distant future. No doubt the RV industry will find the low floor and efficient engines a wonderful blank canvas as well.

"No other automaker offers the variety and adaptability that Ford Motor Co. brings to our commercial customers," said Len Deluca, director of Ford Commercial Vehicles, in a press release. "Transit's best-in-class capabilities are combined with an extensive nationwide network of commercial upfitters to provide an unparalleled number of body choices to suit almost any job."

To read the full press release on Ford's new chassis cab Transit, click here.

To read the full press release on Ford's new CNG/LPG offerings, click here.

Ram ProMaster

Ram ProMaster Chasssis II

Ram just announced pricing for its full-size van competitor; it starts at $27,025 (chassis cab cutaway model). The ProMaster will come in 14 configurations and top out with the long-wheelbase high-roof extended body at $37,145. Prices include destination.

"The latest addition to the Ram Commercial division, our 2014 Ram ProMaster, is an incredible value and contributes to a one-stop shop experience for customers looking for a full line of commercial-duty Ram trucks and vans," said Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram Truck Brand (and Chrysler de Mexico), in a press release. "The ProMaster focuses on principal segment demands with best-in-class features, quality, durability, capability and low total cost of ownership."

Ram ProMaster Pricing

To read the full press release on the Ram ProMaster pricing, click click here.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

3 Sprinter II

Finally, although it's likely to continue as a premium player in this growing segment, we just had the chance to drive several Mercedes-Benz Sprinters at a "Test the Best" dealer event tour that started in Southern California. The instructors taught us how to be more fuel-efficient cargo and passenger van haulers, allowed us to test out the adaptive electronic stability program and even gave us a shot at cruising the big-boys through slalom cones.

By event's end (which included a demonstration where the instructors turned off all the electronic stability controls) we were impressed. Although the Sprinter has a starting price about $10,000 higher than the ProMaster, it was impressive how well it handled and performed, even with 1,500 pounds basically mounted on the roof.

Whether this segment becomes as popular as Ford and Ram Commercial seem to think it will (based on their big investments) remains to be seen, yet with the number of configurations and platform flexibility they offer there is reason to be optimistic. We like the fact that this new competitive segment certainly has a good selection of small turbodiesel engine choices for fleet buyers.

Sprinter water tanks II

Comments

GM's Opel brand has another van derivative that would play well here as an Express van replacement.
http://www.opel.ie/vehicles/opel_range/vans/movano-ng/index.html

If someone does not want a Eurotrash product, that limits the field to an end zone. I guess you can go out and buy an Asian product.
What does Ford have left? The F series and Mustang.
What about Chrysler/dodge?Ram?
Many of their cars are already based on Eurotrash, same goes for Jeeps, and what about their muscle cars?
GMC? same story but I'm not really in the mood to hunt down the origins of every product.
The Camaro is a rebodied Holden. Technically Australia is not Europe.
So go buy a Camaro, an ancient Savana van, and a soon to be replaced GMT900 with a retro 80's look.

GLOBILIZATION

Maybe the USA can invade all of those countries and force then to build Crown Victoria's and old school BOF Impala's.

@Lou
Either someone is trying to discredit me ie, person, cell (political), or business/corporation.

I wish others would speak up about this.

You know it appears the intent of who ever is doing this might be to bring down PUTC.

Like I've stated this is guerilla marketing.

@Luetenslager
So, you've met your match and your ways are not as good as you thought. You are unable to get your view across.

Ram might be behind everyone else, but you will only reduce the work Fiat is doing rebuilding Chrysler.

Maybe you should give up, your tactics are the same used by criminals and terrorist. You are trying to create fear in me or PUTC. This isn't going to work, because I don't really like bullies.

If guerilla marketing is bullying then you don't have to many values or morals. You only think of yourself, your ways are anti social, just like grafitti and vandalism.

I'll wear you down, what you are doing is only going to discredit your form of advertising.
.

@TRX4 Tom, Hemi V8 etc
Give it up

@Lou
Either someone is trying to discredit me ie, person, cell (political), or business/corporation.

I wish others would speak up about this.

You know it appears the intent of who ever is doing this might be to bring down PUTC.

Like I've stated this is guerilla marketing.

@Luetenslager
So, you've met your match and your ways are not as good as you thought. You are unable to get your view across.

Ram might be behind everyone else, but you will only reduce the work Fiat is doing rebuilding Chrysler.

Maybe you should give up, your tactics are the same used by criminals and terrorist. You are trying to create fear in me or PUTC. This isn't going to work, because I don't really like bullies.

If guerilla marketing is bullying then you don't have to many values or morals. You only think of yourself, your ways are anti social, just like grafitti and vandalism.

I'll wear you down, what you are doing is only going to discredit your form of advertising.

@Lou
Either someone is trying to discredit me ie, person, cell (political), or business/corporation.

I wish others would speak up about this.

You know it appears the intent of who ever is doing this might be to bring down PUTC.

Like I've stated this is guerilla marketing.

@Luetenslager
So, you've met your match and your ways are not as good as you thought. You are unable to get your view across.

Ram might be behind everyone else, but you will only reduce the work Fiat is doing rebuilding Chrysler.

Maybe you should give up, your tactics are the same used by criminals and terrorist. You are trying to create fear in me or PUTC. This isn't going to work, because I don't really like bullies.

If guerilla marketing is bullying then you don't have to many values or morals. You only think of yourself, your ways are anti social, just like grafitti and vandalism.

I'll wear you down, what you are doing is only going to discredit your form of advertising.

@Lou
Either someone is trying to discredit me ie, person, cell (political), or business/corporation.

I wish others would speak up about this.

You know it appears the intent of who ever is doing this might be to bring down PUTC.

Like I've stated this is guerilla marketing.

@Luetenslager
So, you've met your match and your ways are not as good as you thought. You are unable to get your view across.

Ram might be behind everyone else, but you will only reduce the work Fiat is doing rebuilding Chrysler.

Maybe you should give up, your tactics are the same used by criminals and terrorist. You are trying to create fear in me or PUTC. This isn't going to work, because I don't really like bullies.

If guerilla marketing is bullying then you don't have to many values or morals. You only think of yourself, your ways are anti social, just like grafitti and vandalism.

I'll wear you down, what you are doing is only going to discredit your form of advertising.

I just made a post and it is no longer on the site.

@TRX4 Tom, Hemi V8 etc
Give it up

I just made a post and it is no longer on the site.

@Big Al from Oz - I'm at a loss here. Obviously there is something going on.

@Lou
Go the the Ford spy photo article and read what the last two pages I have written is about, it might have something to do with it.

I wrote the most indepth analysis of what I think the global market will become. It's actually quite descriptive and matches what I've been saying since posting here.

My article points out the US industry isn't as robust as people would like to think.

I will expand if you have any questions.

Please, acknowledge you have read the discussion between myself and Luke in Co.

@BigAlfromOz - yes I have read your discussions. There are those on this site that prefer a more "chippy" confrontational style of debate. Perhaps debate is the wrong word. Debate implies acknowledging aspects of the other person'a input. It often boils down to a "war" of words with one trying to win regardless of the issues.
Like I said in another thread, I've been to court enough times to know that there are three sides to every story, the defence, the prosecution, and then what is really going on.

I agree that the USA industry is not robust. It still is on very weak ground. The congessional impass is going to do serious damage to the USA economy and other economies.
There are those who do not like globalization. They want to build a fence around the USA and place high import penalties on any product deemed to be a threat. Those same types don't seem to be too concerned about Wallmart though. Let Obama and the Democrats absorb the radiation from a nuclear blast level recession or worse, a depression that will make the "Great Depression" look like the lull before payday.

I find it odd that I haven't been targeted since I'm on here a lot and do have a favourable opinion of foreign products, am not American, and point out inconsistencies in posts.

It may be a case of the trolls moving on from parroting the "Hemi Sheep Herder" mantra to using you as the next disruptive force to RUIN this site.
Traditional "Made In The USA" types get upset by opinions that do not jive with the "We Are #1" anaesthesia that has been aerosolized to the masses. Keep the populace asleep while education levels, standard of living levels,real income levels plummet, and the US's status in the world drops.

You, as an outsider, are the perfect skapegoat for pissing off bloggers and disrupting this site. You are already considered by many to be controversial. The trolls are now using you instead of HemiV8.

@Lou
You know what I write isn't anti American, it's just what I'm seeing as an outside observer now, who actually was born and breed in the US.

Alot of these guys have to realise how thin the ice is at the moment globally.

If the ice cracks the US will lose out like the Europeans did after WWII. The US will still be a big player, but not as dominant. Some of the changes are occuring now, but I can see an acceleration of change coming.

Influences from outside will also change US culture. Just like US culture influences changed many countries after WWII.

Like I've stated, you guys are in for interesting times.

But, its a real shame about the multi postings.

@Big Al from Oz - I agree that you are not anti-American but to may Americans, large pickups and V8's are viewed as institutions. To challenge established pickup orthodoxy is treated the same as challenging mom and apple pie.

The problem with both of these vans is they are BIG...and alot of tradesmen take their vans home, like I do...Most city zoning laws and HOA's forbid vehicles the size of the Ford and Ram from parking them outside a residence over night or over-weekends...I know this because of a friend of minebwho owns a Sprinter, receiving parking warnings, and getting zoning violations, after purchasing one... (The lesser Transit Connect is way to small, and not enough weight capacity). When companies, who need personel on 24 hour call, like Locksmiths, Plumbers and Electricians, realize this, they might start feeding alot of business to Chevrolet. I wish Ford would keep selling the E Series along side the new Transit.

aj,

Ford will offer low roof versions of the Transit. You can get a Transit that is almost identical in length and height to a regular or extended wheelbase E-series.

I made sure to check this out, as I have the same problem. I can't have high roof vans here because they aren't allowed on the expressways.

Ford needs to be giving us a V8 option....v6s and inline 6 diesels are not a homerun in work trucks....especially the V6...Vans carry more weight than most f 150 pickups.....

@Charles,
V8's do not work in these sort of Vans. They were never designed for v8's in the first place.

@ Charles

The Ecoboost V6 has MORE horsepower and the same amount of torque as the 6.8L V10 Ford had in the E-series! That van should absolutely fly!

As far as inline diesels not being well suited for work, you've got to be kidding me. Tell that to the majority of class 8 trucks and heavy equipment out there.

With that said, I am waiting to see the final hp/tq numbers on the 3.2L diesel. The overseas version supposedly makes 197/347, which I feel is a little light for the U.S. market. The 3.0L diesel that Ram is offering makes 240hp/420ft-lbs, which I feel is a bit more in line with the level of power we are used to stateside. The old E-series, for example, offered 235/440 in a diesel.

@Paul810
I've heard the US version of the diesel will be over 400ftlb of torque. That would have to make it about 220-230hp.

@Paul810
I've heard the US version of the diesel will be over 400ftlb of torque. That would have to make it about 220-230hp.

The towing specs of the U.S. spec van are definitely what is going to make it or break it for me.

For my fleet, I'm stuck buying low roof vans due to certain legal requirements. Now, here in the states, the low roof Sprinter only offers a towing rating of 5000lbs. This is not enough for us, as our vans often tow equipment, like scissor lifts. Our typical trailer has a GVWR around 7,500-8000lbs.

The U.S. spec low roof Transit HAS to offer a roughly 8000lb towing capacity, or it simply won't work for us. It seems like it would be entirely possible considering the 1 ton diesel Sprinter (high roof only) can tow up to 7,500lbs. I don't see why they couldn't make a low roof Transit 1-ton tow that much.

Definitely watching closely to see what kind of numbers Ford publishes for the U.S. spec Transit.

The Opel vans are some of the better looking Euro ones.

GM will probably be deciding soon if they will bring the Vivaro to the US as a Chevy or GMC. I can't see GM spending millions to develop new vans here when all the competition is going Euro.That, plus the fact the Vivaro is very competitive and is already developed and ready for sale with a few GM America modifications.

I do think, however, the interiors on the passenger models should be up graded from the Plain Jane gray plasticy look if they do make it across the Atlantic.

@JoTenn
It would be the most cost effective option for GM. They can have a "new" Van for very little outlay.

Forgot about the Movano. That's another possibility for GM to bring here.

2Paul 810

I have business that use large trucks....vans f 750s etc....these work vans need 'realibity...you can talk all day long about the ecoboast....they are having enough problems already with with engine.....Ecoboast is only 1 mpg better on fuel than the 5.0 v8 in 4 wheel drive F 150s.. not much considering all the problems than can happen with turbos..plus we have so much stop and go with business cutting a turbo on and of 25 time a day will not work well!

Also have Class 8 trucks ...real familiar with turbos and all the problems they can cause...if Ford is going to incude a Diesel a Power Stroke V8 would be the way to go!...I would pay extra for the 5.0 gas V8 ..Ford is trying to demote this engine in order to promote the Ecoboast....

Realibity is more important when running trucks in business...

I don't have a problem with the way they look but those prices... oh my god!
It wasn't that long ago where you could walk out with a stripped down e-150 for $16k or $17k Looks like people who are concerned with the bottom line are going to be forced back to using conestoga wagons. At least they're good on gas. Or hay.

I have been driving Ford vans for the last 27 years, I've driven Dodges, Chevys and of course Fords.... Pound for pound FORD BEATS THEM ALL! Stronger, More reliable than any other truck and I have driven them all INCLUDING Mercedes! I am still driving a ford van that was UNDER 4 feet of water after Hurricane Sandy, after a few sensors and a few other parts were replaced " Big Blue" is still as reliable as DAY ONE! Her engine is a tad noisy but she HAS NOT NOR WILL SHE FAIL ME! I will go to my grave standing by my Ford, For work and for personal use.



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