Nearly four months into 2018, General Motors has put production of the Chevrolet City Express small cargo van on hold.
GM had contracted Nissan to build the van, a rebadged Nissan NV200. Both are built at Nissan’s factory in Cuernavaca, Mexico, but the City Express is sold by Chevrolet through its own dealer network.
The Chevrolet City Express went on sale in late 2014 but has never been a big seller. The automaker sold 5,712 of the vans last year. Nissan, by comparison, sold 18,602 NV200s last year. Other competitors include the Ford Transit Connect — 34,473 units sold in 2017 — and the Ram ProMasterCity, which sold 15,584 units.
“The last 2018 model year units were produced in February 2018. Chevrolet and GM Fleet believe 2018 production, combined with existing inventory and factory orders, will be sufficient to meet demand this year,” a GM spokesperson told Trucks.com.
The City Express never came off as a wholehearted compact work van effort, said Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at the AutoPacific consulting firm.
“It was a true badge engineering exercise,” Kim said. “It seemed like there was not-invented-here syndrome going on, with relatively little marketing investment in the vehicle.”
The disappearance of the City Express from the compact commercial van market will probably not be felt much in the marketplace, he said.
Ford leads the market, having leveraged its sales efforts across a full range of commercial vehicles that starts at the Transit Connect and goes up through Class 7 heavy-duty trucks.
Chevrolet appears to have scrapped the van as it gets ready to roll out a slew of electric vehicles, said
Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst at Navigant Research. He said one vehicle is likely to be a small electric cargo van.
“Such a vehicle is ripe for electrification since they mainly operate in cities and don’t generally get used for long-haul routes,” he said. “Another thing to watch for is a bespoke autonomous vehicle that follows up the Bolt AV. This is likely to be a flexible type of vehicle that can be quickly adapted from carrying passengers to cargo as needed during the course of the day.”
Chevrolet has a 150-day inventory of the City Express, so it has plenty of vans to sell for the rest of the year, said Eric Anderson, an analyst at IHS Markit.
“The cancellation of the Chevrolet City Express will allow inventory to be depleted and to focus on higher volume vehicles as this remained more of a niche offering in the segment,” Anderson said.
For its part, Nissan said it was happy with sales figures for the NV200.
“NV200 experienced a record-setting 2017 and is excelling again in 2018, with sales up 6 percent year-over-year through February,” a spokesperson told Trucks.com.
The 2018 City Express starts at $22,855. Chevrolet has not yet updated its City Express product page with information about the 2018 model.