Until the 2010 model year, North American cargo van buyers essentially had only one option – a full size van, either in the form of a traditional body-on-frame van or the unibody Sprinter. For 2010, Ford gambled that the North American market was ready for a much smaller and more fuel-efficient cargo van for users who didn’t need a substantial GVWR or truck-like towing capacity. The company began importing the Transit Connect.

The traditional E-Series van outsold the Transit Connect by a substantial margin until the full-size Transit was introduced. At that point, sales of the E-Series dropped off notably. In 2015 to date, the Transit Connect is running roughly equal to the E-Series, with the larger Transit outselling those vehicles by more than two to one.

Ford cleared the path for other OEM’s to introduce their European van lineups to North America. In the compact segment, North American buyers now have their choice of the Chevrolet City Express, the Ford Transit Connect, the Nissan NV200, and the Ram ProMaster City.

The graphs below show wholesale price performance of these compact models for the 2014 and 2015 model years. Time period is calendar year 2015. Note that our database shows no sales of the City Express until August, and no sales of the ProMaster City until October (we did receive sales of the passenger version starting in July). We also collect data and publish values for passenger versions of these vans, but for this study, we’re focusing on the cargo versions.

On to the results. In the 2014 model year, upper trim levels of the Transit Connect bring strong money, with the XLT LWB EcoBoost retaining almost 70% of its MSRP. The NV200 appears to trail the Transit Connect, but there are two factors mitigating this difference. First, there were substantially more NV200’s reported sold – more than double, in fact. Second, the NV200’s dimensions and feature content are most similar to the Transit Connect XL SWB, which basically performs identically in the marketplace. So the takeaway from this comparison is the market places a value on uplevel trim and content even in the cargo segment.

For 2015 model year vehicles, we have early results for the City Express LT and ProMaster City. Our limited data suggests the City Express may outperform the ProMaster City and NV200, but given the very low volume of the first two models, we will refrain from assigning much importance to this difference at present. Also, note that we have only received sales data for the premium LT trim level, not the LS, which would be more comparable to the NV200. Our published values provide insight as to where we think these models are actually positioned in the marketplace.

It’s rare for a new market niche to be created. It will be interesting to see how these newest models flesh out in terms of value comparisons. Stay tuned here for a look at the full-size cargo van market in upcoming days. As always, NADA Used Car Guide can provide data and deeper analysis to interested parties on request.