General Motors, the automaker that once took badge engineering to dizzying new heights, is culling a slow-selling carbon copy from its lineup. The Chevrolet City Express, a small, front-drive panel van you’ll be forgiven for not remembering, will no longer be available to commercial buyers, GM says.
Essentially a Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo with a chrome grille and bowtie badge where the word “Nissan” should be, this body double gave GM a cheap North American entry in a small commercial van market dominated by Ford Motor Company. It seems buyers preferred Ford by a wide margin. Don’t worry, though â€” there’s still a CVT-equipped van available for repairmen with oddball tastes.
News of the City Express’s quiet demise comes by way of GM Authority, which secured word from GM that dealers are no longer taking orders for the lumpy little van. The vehicle went on sale in late 2014 as a 2015 model.
A straight-up badge engineering job, the hardly Americanized City Express wasÂ assembled in Mexico andÂ made do with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (131 horsepower, 139 lb-ft of torque) and a continuously variable transmission. Its starting price split the difference between the Compact Cargo S and SV.
If owning a small, cheap, Japanese panel van is a must, Nissan will still happily sell you an NV200 Compact Cargo for about the same money Ford demands for its base Transit Connect. For those with a taste for the exotic, the Fiat Doblo Ram ProMaster City is ready and willing to haul your crap around.
From the get-go, buyers had little time for the City Express. The first full year of sale proved to be the model’s best, withÂ 10,283 units sold in the U.S. in 2015. Last year’s volume amounted to 8,348 vehicles. In contrast, Ford sold someÂ 34,473 Transit Connect vans in the U.S. last year, which is down from the model’s high point of 52,000-plus vehicles in 2015. (Ford is determined to expand its smallest van’s footprintÂ with a host of 2019 updates.)
Production of the larger Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans continues at GM’s Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant.
[Image: General Motors]