Dead: Ram ProMaster City Van

Small commercial vans from Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan and, now, Ram, are on their way out.

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The Ram ProMaster City will not return for the 2023 model year, but the larger Ram ProMaster will.
The Ram ProMaster City will not return for the 2023 model year, but the larger Ram ProMaster will.
Photo: Ram

Ram is discontinuing sales of the ProMaster City van after the current model year. There are no plans at the U.S. truck maker to replace the ProMaster City with a similar model, neither in the immediate nor distant future. Ram’s parent company, Stellantis, doesn’t see any point to competing in the small commercial van segment, as Automotive News reports, now that the segment is dying.

News of the Ram ProMaster City leaving Ram’s lineup is the latest in a cull of small vans from the U.S. market. The Ford Transit Connect is gone; the Nissan NV200, as well as its sibling, the Chevrolet City Express, are done; and even the slightly larger Mercedes-Benz Metris is out.

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Photo: Ram
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The 2022 Ram ProMaster City was one of the last small models standing, but carmakers are turning their attention to EVs in the commercial segment.

Arguably, small cargo vans were all about fuel-efficiency. They offered more miles per gallon at the expense of cargo capacity over bigger models like the Ram ProMaster, which will still be around after the ProMaster City is discontinued and the last few models are sent to dealers in early 2023.

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Even though these tiny vans were practical vehicles, their greatest strength was lower fuel costs, and automakers believe EVs will make smaller gas-saving vans obsolete. Amazon has already committed to a small fleet of EV ProMasters.

Of course, that overlooks the fact that making small EV commercial vans is entirely within reach; size and electrification aren’t mutually exclusive. A smaller EV delivery van could use a smaller battery, and would be practical for last-mile deliveries in cities. I bet at some point — at least, I hope — smaller EV vans will be attractive again for the same reason as in the past: efficiency.

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Despite their strengths, demand for small commercial vans has been in decline for years. The Ram ProMaster City peaked in 2016 with 15,972 deliveries but the numbers shrunk steadily until they were at 10,409 by 2020. Automotive News reports a sudden spike of 40 percent in 2021 bought the ProMaster City a reprieve.

The small cargo van was supposed to be discontinued in 2021, but the sales spike extended its life to the first quarter of 2023. Yet, I suspect small cargo vans aren’t done for good. They’re just taking a gap year, or two, until carmakers realize that EVs and small vans are probably a good fit.

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Image for article titled Dead: Ram ProMaster City Van
Photo: Ram
Image for article titled Dead: Ram ProMaster City Van
Photo: Ram