- The Chevrolet Express 1500 and GMC Savana 1500, previously offered by GM as light-duty cargo and eight-passenger vans, have been dropped from the lineup for 2015.
- The vehicles have been popular with large families and some commercial buyers.
- Fuel economy in the form of CAFE requirements was "one of the many factors" leading to the decision to discontinue the pair, Joe Langhauser, GM's van product manager, told Edmunds.
The vehicles have been popular with large families and some commercial buyers.
They were dropped because they use too much gasoline and hurt the company's fuel economy numbers. In addition, sales volume was low and the vans became too costly to produce.
Fuel economy in the form of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements was "one of the many factors" leading to the decision to discontinue the pair, Joe Langhauser, GM's van product manager, told Edmunds.
"As the van product manager, I have some of the profit-and-loss responsibilities so I look at how much it is costing me to assemble each unit," Langhauser said.
The cost to produce the 1500 model reached a point where GM's cost-per-unit was higher than for the larger 2500 series, he said.
The 1500 van was the only GM model that used a four-speed automatic transmission and an older-generation 4.3-liter V6 engine, for example.
Sales of the 1500 van series, Chevrolet and GMC combined, accounted for 15-20 percent of total full-size van sales, depending on the year.
Also at issue is plant utilization. GM's redesigned 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks go on sale later this year and will be assembled in the same Wentzville, Missouri plant that produces the vans. The decision to discontinue the vans gives the pickup line more flexibility.
"We had the opportunity to basically move the 2500 series van, a much more capable van, into the value-leading role," Langhauser said. "So that is what we choose to do."
He expects some buyers of the 1500 commercial vans to switch to the 2015 Chevrolet City Express, a compact, front-wheel-drive van that will be assembled by Nissan.
"The new City Express is half the size, twice the fuel economy" of the full-sized 1500 series van, Langhauser said.
"That size will fit the needs of a lot of our customers who bought a 1500 series because it was the smallest (and) carried the least payload," he said.
Now that a smaller van is available, "some of those people will step down into the City Express and the rest of our customers who were using it because of size, we are expecting to move up to the 2500 series van," Langhauser predicted.
Dave Sullivan, the manager of product analysis for research firm AutoPacific, Inc., told Edmunds "the real reason the 1500 was discontinued is fuel economy."
"They are only building heavy-duty vans so they don't count against their CAFE number," which only includes light-duty vehicles, Sullivan said.
"The light-duty 1500s, which included all-wheel drive, a four-speed automatic, those all brought the (mpg) numbers down," he said. "But because the heavy-duty vans are not included in GM's CAFE number, they just got rid of their dead weight, their boat anchor."
The base 2014 Chevrolet Express 1500 commercial van with the standard 4.3-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission is EPA-rated at 14 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers may want to consider the 2014-‘15 Ram ProMaster, Nissan NV or 2014 Ford Econoline E-150 in place of the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.