The year is 1983, Murdoch, Baracus and the rest of the A-Team load up into their GMC “Action Mobile!” Vandura (having just saved the day) and peel off into the western sunset, leaving nothing but shrapnel, broken hearts, and sky high explosions in their wake. A lot has changed in the world of van production since those glory days.
Gone are the days of custom painted party vehicles and highly masculinized “Soldier of Fortune” transport. Instead we have two ends of an odd spectrum. On one side we have the mini-van, that most utilitarian of all road vehicles, a machine which forfeits aesthetics to a previously unseen extreme for the sake of just the right amount of interior space necessary for large family transport. Then on the other end we have a newer breed of what has largely been a commercial transport option, vans like the Ford Transit Connect and the Nissan NV200.
The Ford Transit Connect is produced for the European market, where it has been fairly popular, and while some Connects are imported into the US, it shows no signs of picking up in demand or popularity. The Nissan NV200, on the other hand, seems to be lining up its fleet for an expected demand which…just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
Earlier this year the NYC Taxi Commission held an international competition to decide which automotive manufacturer would win the rights to supply the new fleet of taxis needed after the retirement of the Ford Crown Victoria. After months of heated argument and comparing of designs, the public was shocked to find out that the next NYC taxi would be the Nissan NV200. Not only is the design strange yet quite unremarkable(often a difficult feat), but it lagged behind other models, such as the popular Turkish made front runner Karzan V1, in both performance and environmental sustainability. Yet this is the vehicle being chosen for not only the streets of NYC, but as the next big North American large passenger and/or cargo van.
Just as the renegade members of the A-Team were on the run for a decade by the time the show hit the air, so has the van segment of the automotive design industry fallen behind by roughly a decade. Perhaps their is no real civilian need for a large van on the world wide market, perhaps between mini-vans, SUVs, and other mid size to large vehicles, the large van has become an almost obsolete and highly niche segment of the industry, one which cannot afford innovative ideas and quality engineering.
But not all hope is lost, companies like Karzan are putting out great vehicles, large transport options which live on the cutting edge both under the hood and on the surface. I just hope that for the sake of the future Murdoch’s and B.A. Baracus’ out there that the industry heads catch wind of the difference between quality and mediocrity, and what that can mean for the future of an automotive sub-species.
Phoenix Valley auto and tech enthusiasts should seriously consider taking a road trip out to Los Angeles in late November for the LA Auto Show, a popular platform for the worlds leaders in design, engineering, and electronics to debut their most cutting edge concepts and developments.
Phoenix Valley auto enthusiasts should also plan on attending the Phoenix Arizona International Auto Show to learn about the most recent concepts and innovations from Honda, as well as the rest of the auto industry, taking place at the Phoenix Arizona Convention center over Thanksgiving weekend.