The NTEA originally projected sales of Class 1-3 vans to reach 275,531 units in 2016 for the U.S. and Mexico, up from 257,506 units in 2015; an 8.6% year-over-year increase. Instead, sales of Class 1-3 vans topped 279,679 units by June, forcing NTEA to revise their market growth projections up to 10%. NTEA is projecting further growth of 8% in this segment for 2017. (Photo by Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)
Yaroslav Hetman, Ford Motor Co.’s brand manager for the full-size Transit and Transit Connect van, along with the soon-to-be-discontinued E-Series, told Fleet Owner that sales of Ford Transit van cab chassis like the one seen here are up 300% year-over-year, with sales of Transit chassis into the recreational vehicle (RV) segment strong, too. It also helps to provide customized creations extolling the possibilities of commercial vans, as well, like Ford did two years ago. (Photo by Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)
The Transit stake body van at far right offers more payload than the F-250 seen at far left, Hetman noted - about 500 lbs. worth. The Transit also comes in three wheelbases - 138-in., 156-in. (the wheelbase of the flatbed seen here) and 179-in., with 64 different configurations possible. Those reasons may be why many commercial fleets are tmuch more interested in van platforms. (Photo by Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)
Ford's Hetman noted that "it's often the little things" that make a huge difference to commercial customers - such as the overhead storage bins seen here in the full-size Transit van.
Such "little things" extend to storage "pockets" on the Transit's doors, seen here right under the side-mirror mounted on the exterior of the door. "Storage is a big deal and this pocket is 'wallet-sized' so the driver does not have to sit on their wallet all day," Hetman explained.
Ease of use is another big factor among commercial vehicle buyers today and that includes such things as easy refueling ports - ones that are also designed to prevent accidental "cross fueling" of diesel fuel into gasoline motors and vice versa. "These easy fill ports are also located right be the driver's door to help speed up the refueling process," Hetman noted.
The "Wagon" version of the Transit, seen in the background behind the flatbed chassis, is also witnessing big uptick in demand, with sales up 30% year-over-year according to Hetman. "There are 16 million families with four or more kids in the U.S.; they need a vehicle larger than a SUV but without too high a price point," he said. "It's a learning curve for us. We started the Transit out purely with a commercial focus but now we expect to see more 'personal use' demand for it in 2017."
On a different note, Ford said sales are also going super-strong for its new medium-duty F-650 and F-750 models, with 10,160 units sold through August, up 59% year-over-year. Ford added that those 10,160 units sold through the first eight months of 2016 total more than all medium-duty units it sold for 2015. (Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)
The F-650 and F-750 line-up includes Regular Cab, SuperCab and Crew Cab body styles, as well as straight-frame, kick-up frame Pro Loader and a new dedicated tractor model for heavy towing applications. They are built at Ford’s Ohio Assembly Plant near Cleveland as the OEM shifted production to Ohio from Mexico in 2015 and invested $168 million to prep its Ohio plant to build medium-duty truck models. (Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)