- European manufacturers dominate van sales
- Lots of European van heading to the US
- A lot of surprise entrants in the Top 20
After a lot of compiling of data and research, Parkers Vans can unveil the Top 20 best-selling vans of all time. The European manufacturers dominate this sector although a number of American and Asian vans also feature.
The relative lack of Asian vans can be attributed to the fact that manufacturers there tend to use their vehicle names a lot more liberally, with different names for different markets, and the same name for different vehicles.
For example, the Asian Nissan Serena was called the Nissan Vanette in Europe, which itself was a completely different vehicle to the Nissan Vanette in Asia. All figures quoted are the units sold until the end of 2014.
So without further ado, here is our list of the best-selling vans ever:
20 – Ford Transit Connect (2002-Present) – one million
Since hitting the market in 2002, the Turkish-built Ford Transit Connect has amassed just over one million sales. The first generation was utilitarian and thirsty, but it was also the first small European panel van to go on sale in the US. The second generation, introduced in 2013, is a lot more refined and comfortable.
Read the latest Ford Transit Connect review.
19 – Citroen C15 (1984-2005) – 1.2 million
After six years on the market, sales of the Citroen Visa started to fall and one of the ways to maintain factory output was to create a panel van variant. The Visa van, or C15 as it was called (its name referring to the 1.5t GVW), was a lot more popular than anticipated, and sales continued until 2005.
18 – Fiat Doblo (2000-Present) – 1.5 million
The Fiat Doblo has been a big success story for Fiat Professional with over 1.5 million rolling out of the Tofas factory in Turkey since the launch. Now into its second generation, it is sold in the US as the Ram Promaster City and is rebadged as the Vauxhall Combo for the UK (and Opel Combo elsewhere); and is available in a number of body styles, including a dropside.
Read the latest Fiat Doblo review.
17 – VW Caddy (1978-Present) – 1.5 million
Despite its image firmly tied in Europe, the Volkswagen Caddy started out life as a VW Golf-based pickup in the US. Now into its fourth generation (as of 2015), the Volkswagen Caddy has sold over 1.5 million units since its launch and is the best-seller in a number of markets, including Australia.
Read the latest VW Caddy review.
16 – Gazelle Business (1994-2013) – 1.6 million
Anyone who has visited Russia over the past 20 years will understand the significance of this van over there; almost one in three heavy vans sold last decade was a Gazelle Business. The Gazelle Next replaced the Business in 2013 but market share is falling due to increased competition from Europe, although it’s still a firm favourite thanks to a low unit price and good build quality.
15 – Vauxhall/Opel Combo (1993-Present) – 1.6 million
Over the course of its 22 years, 1.6 million Vauxhall Combos have been produced. The first two generations were based on the Vauxhall Corsa car, and were manufactured in Portugal and Spain, but the third generation, launched in 2012, was a badge-engineered Fiat Doblo and built at the Tofas factory in Turkey.
Read the latest Vauxhall Combo review.
14 – Renault Trafic (1981-Present) – 1.7 million
Renault manufactures more vans in Europe than any other firm, and the Renault Trafic is a great contributor to this success. Manufacturing took place in France for the first generation (1981-2000), then it was split between Spain and the UK for the second generation (2001-2014), before returning back to Spain for the third generation.
Read the latest Renault Trafic review.
13 – Dodge Ram Van (1981-2003) – 2.3 million
Behind the GM and Ford products, the Dodge Ram Van is the third best-selling US-developed van. Production peaked at 124,000 in 1984 at the Ontario factory, and it was replaced by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (branded as Dodge) in 2003.
12 – Peugeot Partner (1996-Present) – 2.5 million
Replacing the reputable Peugeot 504 Van in 1996 was the Peugeot Partner, and although sales are overshadowed by its sister van, the Citroen Berlingo, 2.5 million sales in just under 20 years isn’t bad. The next generation Vauxhall Combo will be based on the Peugeot Partner too.
Read the latest Peugeot Partner review.
11 – Chevrolet Express & GMC Sierra (1996-Present) – 2.5 million
The two GM vans have racked up sales of around 2.5 million over their 20 year lives, with the Chevrolet outselling the GMC at a rate of around three-to-one. They’re incredibly heavy vehicles for their size and a 6.6-litre turbo diesel is included in the engine offerings.
10 – Iveco Daily (1978-Present) – 2.7 million
Although the Iveco Daily may not be a common sight on our roads, it’s been on sale for almost 40 years and the only one of its kind (no badge-engineered versions) – which means it comfortably fits into our Top 20 with around 2.7 million sales. The latest generation (Mark 4) Iveco Daily was launched in 2014.
Read the latest Iveco Daily review.
9 – Fiat Ducato (1981-Present) – 2.8 million
For over 30 years, the Fiat Ducato has sold well around Europe thanks to its low price, fuel economy and productivity. All three generations have been manufactured at Fiat’s Val di Sangro plant in central Italy, and shares its body, but not engines, with the Citroen Relay and Peugeot Boxer.
Read the latest Fiat Ducato review.
8 – Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (1995-Present) – 2.9 million
Replacing the well-respected Mercedes-Benz TN van in 1995 was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The Sprinter is sold globally and became the first European van to enter the US in 2001. The main factory is in Dusseldorf, Germany (where it shares the line with the Volkswagen Crafter), but assembly plants are located all over the world, including South Carolina in the US.
Read the latest Mercedes-Benz Sprinter review.
7 – Citroen Berlingo (1996–Present) – three million
Replacing the Citroen C15 in 1996, the Citroen Berlingo quickly became Citroen’s best-selling commercial vehicle. It was Citroen’s first dedicated commercial vehicle of this size, and operators were impressed by the increased load volume and payload offered by the Berlingo.
Read the latest Citroen Berlingo review.
6 – Renault Kangoo (1997-Present) – 3.9 million
Following suit of PSA (Peugeot and Citroen), Renault replaced its car derived Renault Express with a dedicated van called the Renault Kangoo in 1997. Built out of Maubeuge, France, the first generation was badge-engineered as a Nissan Kubistar, and the second as a Mercedes-Benz Citan.
Read the latest Renault Kangoo review.
5 – Volkswagen LT (1975-2006) – 5.4 million
The first generation LT was a major success for the Volkswagen’s rapidly growing commercial division. After the success of the first generation, it seems strange that Volkswagen decided to partner with fellow German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz to develop the next generation LT in 1996. Only 350,000 variants of the second generation LT were sold.
4 – Toyota Hiace (1967-Present) – 6.5 million
The Toyota Hiace is Asia’s only van featuring in the Top 20. The vehicle has been on sale since 1967, but it wasn’t until '80s that Toyota began to sell the Hiace outside of Asia in serious numbers. In Europe, the Toyota Hiace was replaced by the Toyota Proace in 2013.
3 – Ford Transit (1965-Present) – eight million
First developed by a British team, the first generation Ford Transit went into production at Langley, Berkshire, in 1965 and became the UK’s best-selling commercial vehicle in its first year. Since then, four new generations of the Ford Transit have gone into production (the latest in 2014) and it is now manufactured in Turkey.
Read the latest Ford Transit review.
2 – Ford E-Series (1961-2014) – 8.2 million
Although it found little success outside of North America, the Ford E-Series was by far the best-selling van on the continent for more than half a century. The Ford Transit, however, is likely to steal this spot in 2015 or 2016, as it continues to be sold around the world and, for the first time, in the US.
1 – Volkswagen Transporter (1950-Present) – 12 million
At the top of the list (or bottom, in this instance) is the Volkswagen Transporter. Not only is it the best-selling van in history, but it’s also been in production longer than any other van. Its popularity led the US to increase import duties on LCVs and the second generation, introduced in 1967, was still being produced in Brazil until 2013.
Read the latest VW Transporter review.