Work vehicles gain strong presence at Chicago Auto Show

Feb. 26, 2015
Ram showcased the ProMaster City. Chevrolet’s all-new, 2015 City Express was on display. Ford had an array of commercial vehicles at the Auto Show. Nissan also showcased a work vehicle at the Auto Show — the NV Cargo Van.

CHICAGO — There were many work vehicles on display at the Chicago Auto Show, Feb. 14 through Feb. 22, at McCormick Place. If contractors are planning to purchase new company and fleet vehicles in the near future, this was a great venue to see the newest truck and van models on the market. 

The ProMaster City has standard highway fuel economy of 29 mpg and best-in-class horsepower and torque thanks to a 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine.

Ram showcased the ProMaster City. The centerpiece of the all-new ProMaster City’s powertrain is its segment-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission, contributing to a standard highway fuel economy rating of 29 miles per gallon (mpg). The ProMaster City is the first commercial van to feature a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Also known as the 948TE, the transmission is part of the ProMaster City’s standard equipment list. Leveraging its wide gear ratio spread and 3.73:1 final-drive ratio, the advanced-technology transmission and well-matched engine combine to deliver fuel economy ratings unsurpassed by any standard-equipment powertrain in the ProMaster City’s segment. The 948TE delivers the right response at the right time. Its 4.70 first-gear ratio delivers 0-to-30 mph in an estimated 3.7 seconds and 0-to-60 mph in an estimated 9.8 seconds.

While the 948TE is efficient, Electronic Range Select (ERS) offers hands-on control of its unique capabilities. ERS allows drivers to manually set the highest available gear for a particular task, such as operating under heavy loads. The result is enhanced throttle response when needed most.

The nine-speed’s design is no less innovative than its function. It has four gear sets, which are nested for economical packaging, and despite having one more gear set than a conventional six-speed transmission, the ProMaster City’s nine-speed is 30 pounds lighter. Of its six shift elements only three are open at any time. Fewer open shift elements mean fewer rotating parts. This reduces drag losses and improves efficiency.

Other features include unsurpassed standard highway fuel economy of 29 mpg; best-in-class horsepower and torque (178/174) from 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine, featuring MultiAir2 valve-actuation technology; Tigershark and nine-speed combination deliver quality, reliability and durability; and “Smart” engine systems and accessory drive improve fuel efficiency.


Featured at the Chicago Auto Show, Chevrolet’s all-new, 2015 City Express matches maneuverability and cargo-hauling flexibility with efficiency, giving urban commercial business owners and fleet managers value-driven capability. It offers 122.7 cubic feet (3,474 liters) of customizable cargo space, a tight turning diameter of only 36.7 feet (11.2 meters) and a payload capacity of 1,500 pounds (680 kg). It will also deliver greater efficiency than full-size vans, thanks to its smaller size and a 2.0L inline-four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing. The City Express, offered in LS and LT trims, is based on the Nissan NV200, which GM procures from Nissan and distributes through Chevrolet’s network of 3,200 dealers.

The City Express has a DOHC 2.0L inline-four engine with continuously variable valve timing.

Standard features include dual rear sliding doors, power windows, 40/60 split rear cargo doors that open 90 and 180 degrees, solid rear doors with available tinted-glass windows, center console storage with a standard file folder bin, fold-down mobile workspace passenger seat, 20 interior cargo-mounting points, six floor-mounted D-rings, six exterior roof rack mounting points, vinyl flooring, a 150-amp alternator and a 12-volt power outlet.

The City Express’s cargo area is designed for function. In addition to its 122.7 cubic feet of cargo room, the space is designed to accommodate large and bulky items, with 4’6” of space from side wall to side wall. There’s also 6’10” of room from the rear doors to the back of the front seats, and when the passenger seat is folded, the length for longer items grows to 9’8”. The tops of the rear wheel houses are flat, too, to enable tiered storage when a platform is used on them.

The City Express’s DOHC 2.0L inline-four engine with continuously variable valve timing is rated at 131 horsepower (98 kW) and 139 lb-ft of torque (188 Nm). It drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission that contributes to efficiency by optimizing torque delivery across the rpm band. A body-integral chassis is designed to provide a balance of strength and low mass that enhances efficiency and the feeling of performance. A MacPherson-strut suspension is located in the front and there’s a truck-style multi-leaf rear suspension.

Also, featured at the Auto Show was the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed transmission is matched with the available 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 engine in the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Designed with 11 percent greater torque capacity than GM’s 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission, complementing the output of the 6.2L, which – at 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque – is the most powerful engine offered in a light-duty pickup.

With four simple gearsets for optimal efficiency and five clutches (two brake clutches and three rotating clutches), the packaging enables the eight-speed automatic to fit the same space as the previous six-speed automatic, with a lower weight. A wider 7.0 overall gear ratio spread provides a numerically higher 4.56 first gear ratio, helping drivers start off more confidently with a heavy load.

Plus, there are friction-reducing design features — including all-new synthetic fluid — and lower spin losses via a powerflow that uses only two open clutches contribute further to efficiency. A new torque converter design with turbine damper enhances refinement, particularly during low-speed gear changes, for smoother performance when the truck is loaded or pulling a trailer.


Ford had an array of commercial vehicles at the Auto Show. For starters the all-new 2015 Ford Transit low- and medium-roof regular-wheelbase wagons with available 3.5-liter EcoBoost were showcased.

Ford's 2015 Transit Connect Cargo Van has a 1.6L EcoBoost iVCT I-4 gas engine.

These vehicles have a 46 percent better EPA-estimated highway fuel economy rating than Ford E-Series with premium gas engine. Other features include a proven 3.5-liter EcoBoost, offering a gas engine torque rating of 400-lb.-ft. Plus, the Transit van offers best-in-class gas engine maximum cargo capacity of 487.3 cubic feet when properly equipped. The Transit goes on sale for the first time at U.S. and Canadian dealerships this summer, eventually replacing Ford’s E-Series.

Also, showcased at the Auto Show was a variety of 2015 Transit Connects. The Transit Connect, which is known for urban maneuverability, offers contractors a choice between two efficient four-cylinder engines — a standard 2.5-liter and an optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost. The 2.5-liter engine can be specified with a compressed natural gas/liquid propane gas preparation package, enabling convenient conversion by Ford-certified upfit specialists to run on CNG or LPG. Both the standard 2.5-liter and 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine come mated to an efficient six-speed automatic transmission, geared for around-town responsiveness and low-rpm highway cruising.

Ford’s F-150 was also featured at the Auto Show. The F-150 can tow 12,200 pounds and haul 3,300 pounds. Regardless of model configuration or engine choice, every customer benefits from up to 700 pounds of weight savings with the 2015 F-150; the truck can tow up to 1,100 more pounds, haul up to 530 more pounds and is projected to deliver fuel economy ratings in the range of at least 5 percent and as much as 20 percent higher gas mileage than today’s truck, depending on the model.

Several features debut in the all-new F-150, including 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with standard Auto Start-Stop. This new engine design produces 325 horsepower and 375 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost 4x2 has a maximum payload rating of 2,250 pounds and maximum tow rating of 8,500 pounds — ideal for meeting mid-range capability requirements and the needs of more than 90 percent of light-duty truck customers. Another new feature is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost. This twin-turbo EcoBoost engine delivers V8-like 420 lb.-ft. of torque and 365 horsepower to enable towing of up to 12,200 pounds. It has earned an industry-leading maximum payload rating of 3,180 pounds.


Nissan also showcased a work vehicle at the Auto Show — the NV Cargo Van. This cargo van is available in V6 and V8 engines, and delivers a full-length, fully-boxed ladder frame with standard and high roof options.

Available in V6 and V8 engines is the popular NV Cargo Van.

The 4.0-L V6 delivers power with optimum fuel efficiency, and the 5.6-L V8 boasts a forged crankshaft and cast-iron cylinder liners for maximum strength. Inside the cargo van there are 57 interior integrated and reinforced cargo mounting points, so the NV Cargo Van can be upfitted for any contractor.

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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