Sales of full-size and compact vans have continued to show strength, as Ford sold nearly 10,000 full-size Transit vans in January, following the company's best year of van sales since 1978.
Full-size vans outpaced compact vans in January, as commercial buyers have increasingly been choosing the larger package, according to sales data from GoodCarBadCar.net.
Ford sold 9,631 Transit vans in January, which represents a 51% increase from January of 2014. Ford's full van sales, which also would include the E-Series chassis cabs and Transit Connect compact vans, increased 20% from a year ago, according to Ford.
Full-year van sales in 2015 provided stout growth in the segment. Overall sales increased 18.6% with a 37.4% increase in small commercial vans and a 14.1% increase in full-size vans, according to GoodCarBadCar.net.
Ford closed out 2015 with a 32% increase in van sales over the prior year by selling 220,586 units. It was the most vans sold by Ford since 1978.
Other automakers have also booked strong van sales. General Motors sold 95,657 units of its Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana, and Chevrolet City Express in 2015 compared to 106,523 vans in 2014. GM introduced its City Express compact van at the end of 2014.
In 2015, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sold 42,691 units of its Ram ProMaster, Ram ProMaster City, and Ram C/V Tradesman. It had sold 29,350 vans in 2014. The ProMaster City replaced the Ram C/V in early 2015.
Nissan sold 34,275 units of its NV and NV200 vans compared to 28,275 in 2014. Mercedes Benz sold 29,889 units of its Sprinter and Metris compared with 25,745 Sprinters in 2014.
Van sales tend to mirror the health of the economy, and fell during recessions in 1980-1981, 1990-1991, and 2009. When the economy improves, commercial customers invest in new vans to support and expand their businesses, according to a Ford spokesperson.
Ford has seen a wide range of businesses and uses of its Transit, which is offered in 58 configurations of three wheelbases, five body lengths, three roof heights, and three engines. The Transit vans have been purchased for use as food trucks, catering, mobile dog washing studios, mobile snowboard waxing at the ski slopes, general contractor mobile offices at construction sites, shuttle buses, school buses, livery coaches, and ambulances.