Getting energized about service vans

Electrification, particularly in the truck market, has been in the headlines this past year. And, while you still can’t buy a Tesla or Rivian electric pickup truck just yet, they are getting closer; but electricity isn’t just for pickups, it’s coming to the van market as well.

Currently, it looks like Ford will be first out of the gate with an all-electric Transit van set to arrive in late 2021 – as a 2022 model. Ford says this Transit will be smart and connected, giving fleet owners technology solutions like in-vehicle high-speed data architecture and cloud-based services.

The other brands also have electric vans in the works, however for 2020 most changes to commercial models are minimal, and they solider on, still burning hydrocarbons.

The E-Series has now been in continuous production  for 58 years. For 2020, the E-series is available as  a cutaway or stripped chassis.

Single and dual-rear wheel chassis have GCWRs ranging from 13,000 lb. to 22,000 lb. Engines include  the 6.8L V10 and 6.2L V8 flex fuel, which  can also be ordered as a CNG/propane  prep package. However, this is  the last year for these  powertrains as Ford has  announced that, for the 2021  model year, the E-Series  will switch to the new 7.3L  V8 engine. That engine with  be paired with a six-speed HD  automatic transmission.

 This year is a carry-over year for the midsize Metris. A few updates have been made; however, it’s changed little since its 2015 debut. This van is available in passenger and cargo configurations with various seating options, and two wheelbases. A rear-view camera is standard equipment.

For 2020, the Ford Transit gets smart. It’s been loaded with technology, like its lanekeeping system, available adaptive cruise control, FordPass Connect, and more. Also new for 2020 is available all-wheel drive (AWD). Another upgrade is an available power sliding door, making for easy entry and exit. A new standard feature for 2020 is automatic rainsensing wipers. Models include the Transit 150, Transit 250, Transit 350 and Transit 350 HD. Cutaway chassis cabs are also available.

In 2019, the Transit Connect added driver assistance features like side wind stabilization, rear-view camera, blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert, lane keeping system, and adaptive cruise control. Also new were a pair of powertrains joining the original 2.5L I-4. The new standard is now a 2L I-4 with an 8-speed transmission.

For 2020, the Transit remains the same – except for the 2.5L engine (with the 6-speed auto) that is now available to fleets only

Last year was the Sprinter’s big update with the third generation coming to Canada, so 2020 is a carry-over year. New safety features include a self-cleaning rear-view camera, which projects in the rearview mirror; a 360-degree parking view; and a new rain sensor for the wipers. Mercedes is also working on internet connectivity for Canada.

Mercedes PRO will provide logistical support to fleet managers – it will report location, fuel levels and maintenance intervals, as well as improve navigation and analysis of driving style – all remotely and in real-time.

2020 RAM PROMASTER 1500 TO 3500
For 2020, the ProMaster is expanding its model offerings. New in the lineup is a 136” wheelbase cargo van that is available as a 2500 standard roof, 3500 standard roof or 3500 high roof model. Also updated is that the maximum tow rating is now 6,800 lb., with the factory installed trailer hitch. But there is more to come for ProMaster. Ram has already shown a 2021 ProMaster with increased driver assist features. That van will have new safety options, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, forward collision warning with emergency brake  assist and ambient/courtesy lights. ProMaster is available as a cargo van, window van, chassis cab  and cutaway model, and is a front-wheel-drive platform.

A 2019 update gave the smaller ProMaster City a new grille and front fascia. This year, it’s strictly a carry-over. This van is available in a two-seat Tradesman version or as a fiveseat passenger wagon. Electronics include the Uconnect 5.0 multimedia centre with 5” touchscreen, hands-free with Bluetooth, streaming audio and ParkView rear back-up camera.

2020 CHEVY EXPRESS 2500 AND 3500
The van business seems to be remaining steady, once again,  for GM. As the last of the “traditional” North American vans, it appears their customers demand nothing new and for 2020, well, that’s what they are getting.

For 2020, much like the Ford E-series, the veteran chassis-cab carries on, without any changes.

Written by Howard J. Elmer