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Why the Cargo Van Is Outpacing the Pickup as the Business Vehicle of Choice

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This story appears in the October 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Five years ago, if you’d wanted a cargo van for your business, you’d have had four choices: Ford’s long-in-the-tooth E-Series, Chevrolet’s ancient Express, Dodge’s Ram converted minivan or the pricier Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The domestics were built on top of a heavy pickup-truck chassis with old engine technology that guzzled gas, and their interiors were noted for their cramped cockpits and narrow cargo bays. For employees trying to find parts, make deliveries and keep cargo organized, these old vans were painful compromises. Meanwhile, manufacturers poured money and research into the engines, cabs and capabilities of full-size pickup trucks—and sold the hell out of them to millions of businesses.

David Fenton
Michael Farias chose Nissan for his fleet of emergency plumbing vans.

But today there are dozens of van options, if you count all the possible configurations among Nissan’s NV, Ford’s Transit and Mercedes’ revamped (and now less expensive) Sprinter, plus two new Ram ProMasters. It’s no wonder that commercial van sales are up, with the smaller city vans leading the way—their sales have increased nearly 50 percent in the past year.

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