Next summer’s new small commercial van from Chevy leverages the Nissan NV200 ’s tough-but-cheap new platform with hopes that the powerhouse Chevrolet fleet network can work its magic in delivering significant commercial sales volume.
Called the Chevy City Express, the new small van has twin sliding doors and a massive load bay – all while driving the front wheels and offering an overall 24 mpg.
The small commercial van segment is heating up since the arrival of the Ford Transit Connect . Despite the Transit Connect ’s popularity and niche-filling role in the Ford empire, bringing it to America from Europe has been a labor-intensive process that also means the vehicle offers much slimmer profit margins than the old-school Econolines that were previously Ford’s only answer for van shoppers.
The Chevy City Express path is a shortcut to gain access to this growing market segment without a huge investment in a new platform or assembly line. Nissan’s NV200 is the ideal candidate for a shared model because it offers federalized engines and crash structures, yet can also be sold globally with a variety of tiny gasoline and diesel engines.
As catchy as the old ‘badge engineering’ description is, it does not really apply in this case across the two unrelated companies. This is more like R&D engineering, or supply chain engineering – a rapid way to get this car into dealers with a Chevy badge without any of the risks associated with a years-long, multi-billion-dollar engineering program to build one from scratch.
Will adding some bow-tie grilles and Chevy’s huge network of existing fleet customers to the Nissan package be enough to deliver results for American businesses? Does the new City Express’s efficiency and maneuverability outweigh its lack of towing, off-road or heavy hauling stats?
Update 8/15/2014: Chevy has announced official EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2015 City Express. It gets 24 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
Click past the jump for the full preview of the 2015 Chevrolet City Express, including full specs on the shared platform dimensions, features and mechanicals.