US car sales analysis 2017 Q4 – Commercial Van segment

Segment sales decline from 2016 peak on weak demand for Ford Transit and Transit Connect vans

Overall sales in the commercial vans segment fell by 5.7% to 108,844 in the fourth quarter of 2017, while overall sales in 2017 fell by 2.7% to 449,849. While both the small vans and large vans subsegments saw their sales decline, the drop was much larger for the former: 8.7% versus 1.4% for the latter. However, it has to be noted that the segment is shrinking from a very high base – 2016 was the best year on record, with a little over 460,000 cars sold, and thus a little correction is probably to be expected. While this segment is probably less sensitive to model age, as evidenced by the continued success of the geriatric Chevrolet Express, Ford E-series and GMC Savana, 2018 will see the debut of at least one new model: the revised Mercedes-Benz Sprinter


  • From among the five car companies offering commercial vehicles in the US, Ford had by far the worst year: both the Transit and Transit Connect saw their sales fall by the double-digits, with only the aged E-series managing to lose only 2% of its sales
  • By comparison, GM had a very good year – not only did its ancient Chevrolet Express managed to gain some sales, its twin GMC Savana saw sales go up by 44%, while the Chevrolet City Express was the only small van to gain sales in 2017

Note: Clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

  • Ram and Nissan had a very stable 2017, with sales of all their models staying pretty much at the level they were in 2016, which means that the Ram ProMaster moves ahead in the ranking ahead of the rapidly-falling Transit Connect
  • Finally, Mercedes-Benz had a decent 2017, with sales of the Sprinter falling slowly as the company finally managed to get sales of its mid-sized Metris off the ground, though at under 7,500 units sold in 2017 it remains at the bottom of the rankings

Note: clicking on the model names in legend turns the display for that model on/off; data is displayed from 1990 onwards, but starts earlier – access previous years using slider on bottom