The Chevy Express And GMC Savana May Be Replaced By EVs After Nearly 30 Years Of Production

2022 Express Cargo Design 03 (22)

If you’ve had a plumber, handyman, or contractor pull up to your home in the past 26 years, chances are they’ve shown up in a Ford E-Series or one of GM’s work vans. The Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana had an impressively-long run in the marketplace, but it appears that GM is finally ready to cut the cord. In 2026, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana may be replaced with EVs.

Citing a competitive analysis source, this news comes down from the folks at Autoweek. And honestly, it’s a little bit of a shocker.

The American cargo and passenger van market has been undergoing some pretty big changes since the 2010s. The Euro-chic Ford Transit arrived on the block, joining the smaller Transit Connect and leading to the old E-Series being reduced to just a chassis cab. FCA (now Stellantis) started bringing over Fiat vans and slapping Ram badges on them. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter finally got some more Euro-style competition in North America. And these new vans promise to help owners’ bottom lines with optimized space and better fuel economy than the vans of old.

But over at General Motors, its offering was and still is the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana. These are vans that originally hit the road back in 1996, getting some updates over the years. And the wild part is that aside from a new front end, they still bear that 1990s design. Aside from the discontinued City Express (a rebadged Nissan NV200), the General hasn’t offered updated options like its competition.

2022 Express Passenger Design 01 (2)

But, if Autoweek’s report holds true, then GM is finally about to change that.

According to the outlet, the full-size vans will end their production run after the 2025 model year. The holes left in GM’s work van lineup will then be filled by battery-electric vans in 2026. There are no real details about this transition. However, the new vans are said to ride on GM’s modular Ultium electric platform. The publication theorizes that the design could be similar to the BrightDrop Zevo 600 delivery vans, albeit in a smaller package.

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TheDrive reached out to GM and received this response back:

We have said in the past that as part of GM’s larger EV acceleration plans that we will add two new vehicles to our commercial portfolio. The first is a full-sized battery electric cargo van and the second is a medium-duty truck that will put both Ultium and our Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell technology to work. We have not disclosed timing, names or shared any other details, so any articles reporting more are purely speculative.

If this is true, that means that GM appears to be taking on a more aggressive approach than its competitors. Ford is selling its ICE-powered Transit, Transit, and E-Series Cutaway alongside the E-Transit. And Ram plans to add an electric to its lineup, too. But these reported GM plans would erase ICE-powered work vans from GM’s lineup entirely.

It’s certainly a bold move, and one that may seem to leave some money on the table. Some businesses may still want ICE power depending on their needs. But if it’s priced right it could work. And phasing out the gas vans does help advance GM’s mission for an all-electric future. These types of vans are also often used on deliveries or service calls that would be well within an EV van’s range.

I have reached out to GM for comment and possible clarification.

(All Photo Credits to General Motors.)

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77 Responses

  1. This might work for alot of businesses, what’s clear is that there will be no one size fits all solution for existing buildings. New construction will have this problem solved.

  2. I have driven the Express/Savana twins around 100k miles every year for the last 16+ years. Most of that time is in a 4500 cutaway and they are so reliable I would hate to see GM discontinue the ICE versions. I was hoping they would be around longer especially after offering the 6.6 gas last year. We have some 3/4 ton vans in our fleet with over 500k miles on original drivetrain.

    1. Talk to me more about why you like these vans! I’ve always felt like the packaging and efficiency advantages of the Euro-style vans make them obvious winners. If I had to build a fleet from scratch I just can’t see going with GM—I’ve always assumed that the Express/Savana twins mainly exist for people who know what they like and aren’t interested in changing. People who are stuck in their ways in other words, no offense intended.

      My company runs all Transit 150s for this class of vehicle, and they seem to serve us well. I don’t drive one personally (I’m the box truck guy on the crew) but I work alongside people who do every day and I haven’t heard any complaints. I can’t remember the last time one of our Transits was out of service for a mechanical failure, either. Can’t remember that happening ever, come to think of it.

      Anyway though, I’m more interested in what you see as the advantages of old-school Express vans! How are they to drive? How are they to work with? What kind of fuel economy do you get out of them? What have they done to earn your respect and loyalty, aside from just being as reliable as the sun? They clearly still have a following, and I’ve wondered for years why that is.

      1. Delayed, not the OP, but I drove a handful of Savanas part-time as a courier, back when I was in college. They drive okay for what they are (a little vague on the highway, fine below that), they’re not actually that inefficient (the Transit I rented to move last year got maybe 1L/100km better, if that), and depending on the purpose, they’ve still got plenty of space. Most importantly, they’re the box an LS swap comes in. It’s not a big selling point for the fleet manager, but it’s kind of fun for the driver to get to stomp on the loud pedal every now and then.

      2. I’m with you that the Euro-style vans seem like obvious winners! I like the way that a Transit drives more than a GMC Savana or an E-Series, that’s for sure. That’s why I’m a bit surprised that GM hasn’t done anything to compete with those vans, instead keeping these going longer. I suppose they tried with the rebadged Nissan van..

        And I’m most impressed with how long these vans have gone with only evolutionary updates. I mean, it seems that they’re still even painted with that 1990s GM paint formulation that starts peeling after a handful of years.

    2. Us schmucks who use public transit regularly ride in trains, subways and even planes that are 25+ years old and don’t even think about it. There’s something to be said for long term reliable service. And maintenance.

    1. The vast majority of these will have a malfunction in the right tail/brake light that looks for all the world like a bulb burned out, but there’s actually a wiring problem. It happened on ours and I often see it on others out in the wild. At first I thought it was caused by the conversion company, but it’s been seen on work vans too. Drove me NUTS.

      1. The Silhouette is just awesome 🙂 We had them this side of the pond as the EU-spec Pontiac Trans Sport (after a brief initial run consisting of regular dustbuster Trans Sports) and I always loved how it looks. Someone in my hometown daily drives a white one. The car once blew a head gasket and the owner had to have one custom made in a shop because they couldn’t find one anywhere in the country (Portugal was probably one of the most insignificant markets where it was ever sold).

      2. I still have a soft spot for them. Questionable on the quality maybe, but major props for GM of all automakers for taking such a bold design chance.

        I remembered they appeared in one of the ’90s Knight Rider tv movies, to showcase that is was the future.

  3. You know what I hear contractors really like?

    Increased cost and decreased viable lifespan in their work vehicles (they run them into the ground). Oh, and a forced transition away from a tried-and-true favorite.

    This is going to go over like a fart in church.

    1. You know what contractors like? Decreased maintenance and fuel costs. The ability to plug in at various job sites and not ever stop for fuel.
      Are there tradeoffs? Sure. But a lot of contractors are going to love EVs, especially if they are made at scale. And I suspect GM will be using essentially the same design for some time, so replacing batteries after 200k miles or so probably won’t be too expensive once they start rolling out a bunch of these.

      1. You’re not generally wrong about your first statement. However, until the charging infrastructure is there, they will not be fully onboard. If they have a job taking them out of range of their EV van (i.e. carpenter, plumber, repair person, installer, etc), having to find a charging station, whether public or private, isn’t just a headache as it is for the rest of us masses, it’s time versus costs in context of business. They would have to keep an ICE vehicle in the fleet for those instances, which is fine, but at that point, why not just solely use your existing ICE vehicle?

        1. Right but if you have 10 vans for your company, and 80% of your jobs are within EV range, why would you keep 10 ICE vans? Why not replace 8 of the 10 with EVs and enjoy the savings on maintenance and fuel where you can? It doesn’t need to be an all or nothing thing. On top of that, how many service guys actually drive more than 200-250 miles a day? There’s certainly some, but I think the vast majority work in a smaller area on a given day.

          1. Drive 200+ miles in a day? I do it pretty often. My shop is in northeast MA, and we regularly have jobs out on the Cape. That’s a 250-mile day right there. Eastern Massachusetts is not exactly a wide-open, sparsely-populated state, either. I’ve never worked in, say, Arizona or Montana, but my understanding is that driving long distances is more common out there than it is over here.

            Mind you, running a fleet that’s part EV and part ICE is already a thing. The main issue is that it reduces operational flexibility—you have some vehicles that are more limited in their capabilities, and you need to make sure you deploy the longer-range vehicles wisely and that you have enough on hand to make sure you don’t get fucked if a whole bunch of far-flung jobs happen to achieve project readiness simultaneously.

            Secondarily, nobody wants to be stuck on the crew that does nothing but 200-mile hauls every single day. It’s bad for morale and it sows discontent among the field staff. We signed up to build stuff, not slog back and forth through traffic for most of the working day.

        2. What you are doing here is the same thing a lot of people do with EV: you assume that because the EV doesn’t solve for all possible use cases, it is useless. If you are a business with 5 vans, and you know you have the occasional job outside of town, you keep one or two ICE. You plug the others in every night (and probably at some job sites) and you avoid the down time of fueling up at a gas station.
          Heck, even if you went full EV fleet and accounted for the time spent charging, a company that does mostly local business might find that the time spent charging on the jobs farther out is less than the time spent fueling ICE vehicles regularly.
          It all depends on the use case. Entirely writing off EVs because of a few use cases is shortsighted.

      2. Plug in at a jobsite? What jobsite have you ever been to that has EV chargers available for the contractors? Not only have I never seen that, I’ve never heard it seriously proposed. Hell, I’ve never heard it *jokingly* proposed. It’s not a thing.

        1. You realize that you can plug into electricity without it being a dedicated EV charger, right? And if you will be at the site for most of the day, even 110v charging could charge up most of what you used to get there. And, like carringb said, there’s virtually always plenty of 240v connections at a job site.

        2. Every jobsite (commercial construction) I’ve been on has 50-amp 240v connections everywhere. Most of them are underutilized during the day, because they charge all the scissor and boom lifts at night. Temp lighting is a negligible draw anymore, and most power tools are also battery powered now.

    2. Depends. A lot of contractors are big firms with dozens if not hundreds of vehicles, and they’ll crunch the numbers and do whatever they think makes the most financial sense. The automotive landscape will look very different in 2026 as far as EVs are concerned, and they may not seem like so much of a gamble. It’s gonna depend on things like the price point, fuel costs vs. electricity costs, capability and range, EV infrastructure, and the Ultium platform’s reliability track record. My own company would absolutely love to run an all-EV fleet, if the right vehicles were available.

    1. Totally. I thought they discontinued them years back, and were only offering that Chevy/Nissan van (which I didn’t know was discontinued itself…makes sense, as I rarely saw them anywhere).

  4. You would think these are just another garbage thrown together gm product, and they kind of are, but they’re actually one of the most reliable vehicles ever made. Get one without 4wd and without stabilitrac, do basic maintenance and the thing will go for-fucking-ever. They’re easy to work on, especially compared to modern vans, parts are cheap as dirt, the most common problem they ever have is the seal where the oil cooler lines come out of the engine and that takes a whole 5 minutes to fix. Hell i’ve pulled original spark plugs out of one with over 300,000 miles on it and it still wasn’t missing. Theres a reason fleets love these and it’s going to be a shitshow for everybody involved when they’re gone

  5. It concerns me that they will start building these on the Ultium skateboard chassis as this will impact the accessible van business and those families that use them.

    We had one where we were able to install a wheelchair lift in the side door and roll our daughter in and out with no problem. Later, when we went to sell the van, we had trouble because we were seeing adults who wanted it but they were taller than the stock 48″ opening between the lift and the top of the door frame.

    That height issue is why companies that convert these vans for wheelchair use lower the floor. If the battery is part of the frame and makes up the floor of the van, how will it be modified to accommodate wheelchair users? Raising the roof to create headroom also creates leaks that will shorten the useful life of a very expensive necessity.

    1. I wonder if the new EV vans could still be sold in the chassis-cab configuration, so that you could install a wheelchair accessible passenger compartment on to it. I don’t know if that would cost more or less than taking the mass produced passenger van body and modifying it to have a lower floor and ramp/lift. The wheelchair vans that pick up patients from the hospital where I work are almost always full size vans that can easily accommodate taller passengers, but those vans are huge. They’re much too tall to fit in a standard home garage or many parking garages.

      1. Fitting in a parking garage is exactly why we didn’t start with a high-top conversion, and for family use a modified Transit or similar current van would have similar problems. At the time we needed the van we had no garage, but now we’re in a different house and I think I would have had to remove the luggage rack from the Express in order to fit it into our current garage. That matters, because the driveway is sloped enough to make it difficult to unlatch the chair and turn it in the van, while parking on the street would put the lift down into grass, which also makes it difficult to move a wheelchair.

        I know there isn’t a HUGE market for wheelchair vans in domestic use, but for those who need and can afford them they are vital. Conversion companies are going to have to be very creative in solving this problem. Minivan conversions will have the same problem, if you can find anyone still making a minivan to be converted.

        1. I know that Tom on the other site recently had an Odyssey (sp?) converted so that his wife could drive it with hand controls from her wheelchair. So there you’re looking at a ramp, a driver’s seat that can be moved aside, and duplicate controls. Or at least I think it was set up so that it could still be driven with the stock seat and pedals. I’d have to defer to your experience on how common it is for modern minivans to be capable of taking that level of modification.

          1. That sort of thing is doable if the user can transfer out of the wheelchair. That wasn’t our situation so we may have been in trouble had we needed a lowered floor when that space was all battery. I’ll be optimistic here and be eager to see how the conversion people adapt.

  6. No expert, but, I just don’t seem them actually stopping production in 2025/2026, unless there is some sort of looming regulation that forces it (a la Panther platform). There’s bound to still be demand from ‘traditional’ buyers, and it seems that, just like now, it would be very cheap to just keep making them (and making money off of them). They’re the only game in town that can tow a heavy trailer (10,000lbs vs 7,500lbs on a Sprinter, and you need a dually for that), which, for some of us, is pretty important. It may be small, but, I think the market for traditionalists, towing, and long distance drivers will keep the Express/Savanna alive for a few years after the new vans launch.

    I think the bigger question here is, what’s going to power them through the next few years? Just read on a different comment that they’re dropping the 2.8 diesel, and I’d have to assume the 4.3 is on the chopping block since it’s no longer offered in the trucks. I guess offering them with just the 6.6 V8 would be cheap enough, but, wondering if they’ll try and put the 5.3 or the 2.7T in to expand the appeal somewhat.

  7. I’m genuinely curious if the Express/Savana is the longest continuous production run of a car model without major changes. The beetle was sold for 28 years IIRC, and I can’t think of anything else sold for longer.

    1. VW Beetle technically 1938-2003 – 65 years

      Mercedes Benz G-Wagen (W461) 1992 – present – but its essentially the same vehicle as the original released in 1978 (although its about to go out of production), only major updates have been engines, transmission and minor dashboard updates. – so 42 years

      Original Mini 1959-2000 – 41 years

      Toyota LandCruiser 70 series. Released in 1984, major changes: 1999 coil springs introduced at the front. 2007 new front end to fit in the V8, 2009 new dashboard to accomodate airbags. Thats it for MAJOR changes on the truck. – 38 years

      There’s also the Lada Riva, Lada Niva and other Russian off road vehicles, that I don’t know the name of.

  8. I just got an Express after having an Econoline for several years and it’s definitely superior to that. I haven’t had the chance to drive a Transit but I imagine they’re better than the Chevy. What kept me from getting a Transit was cost, first and foremost, but also since I was buying used and at the lower end of the market things like ease of repair due to a less complex engine and availability of parts both new and salvaged were concerns.

    I wouldn’t mind an EV cargo van as long as charging is available. That’s always going to be the problem until chargers are as ubiquitous and as universal (as far as brand/port) as gas stations. I don’t imagine the loss of range from a full load is much if any worse than the corresponding drop in MPG for an ICE vehicle. Until then I’d really like to see range numbers when fully loaded for work trucks. That way I can check out the charger situation in my area and see what works for me. If they could somehow make them less ugly that would be cool too. The EV delivery vehicles and such look like step vans from the future, not an updated cargo van.

  9. I rented the big GMC version, and drove it about 200 miles. Maybe I’m spoiled with owning an MB Metris cargo, but this van had about the worst suspension I’ve ever suffered in a modern vehicle. The ride was terrible when it was empty, and terrible when it was heavily loaded. The seats were quite uncomfortable, but at least it got 12 MPG! I feel sorry for anyone who has to drive one of these every day…

  10. As someone who has spent almost 20 years working for companies such as Airborne Express, DHL, Lincare, & Fedex I was always really excited when the companies would choose to buy the Express over the Econoline; I hated driving Econoline’s, the interior was garbage, things would always break, AC was never adequate for the size, slow and unresponsive powertrain, etc. Then Ford brought over the Tranistvan and the game was changed, those are the absolute best IMHO; I have an Express myself though, 285k on the 4.3 and still runs strong. I will miss them.

  11. It’s a super important product for a few reasons and it will be interesting to see how things play out. The express is ideal for business because its
    1. Cheap to buy and service
    2. Reliable
    3. A known quantity.

    A new electric van from GM will have none of those features out of the gate. save maybe reliability, but as good as the engineering is we can certainly agree that the bugs won’t have been ironed out to the same level as the express.

    The other side of the market is RV’s. The cost and reduced range and refueling options make electric class b’s pretty unlikely.

  12. It’s been really interesting to me to see GM hold onto these vans in the face of more spacious and efficient competition from Ford, Ram, and Mercedes. My assumption has been that while the market of people who still want a traditional, RWD, Econoline-style van has shrunk due to the obvious advantages of newer Euro-style models, that market still exists and GM just decided that for zero additional investment they could have it all to themselves.

    The tooling was paid off ages ago, the vans themselves are about as complicated as a stone axe, and there will always be people who just want more of what they already know works for them. Plus, you can get them with tow ratings as high as 10,000 lbs—literal tons more than the beefiest Transit can manage.

    1. I’m just surprised they haven’t tried putting turbo 4’s in them yet with an 8 speed auto or a hybrid setup. You don’t need V8 torque once you’re moving, and using electric motors to get you moving and a 4 cylinder to cruise could be the best of both worlds. Regenerative braking would also save on later brake maintenance, too.

      1. You already could. They added the 2.8 turbodiesel 4 from the Colorado/Canyon with the 8L45 several years ago, but, apparently, it’s gone for 2023. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add the 2.7T from the 1500 trucks, since I’d assume they’re also dropping the 4.3.

  13. Two more quick things: One, I feel like the styling on these vans, to the extent that there is any that is, has aged very well. They don’t look old, they don’t look new, they just look like vans. They just fit into the automotive landscape, looking as normal, familiar, and contemporary as ever. That’s really quite a feat!

    Two, if GM is gonna go all-electric with their vans they need to do more than just short-range ones for delivery drivers. Yeah, yeah, the average van only goes such-and-such miles per day, but serving up to the average will only serve half the market. Some of these vans are interstate couriers, for chrissakes. There needs to be a range of battery sizes available, to suit the needs of various operators.

    1. They for sure need a range of … range. But if they ‘only’ do up to the average, they could still very much do a smaller gas motored hybrid version, too. Like, if they can manage 200 miles on all electric, doing a hybrid setup with a 1.5L turbo 4 that makes 155hp and 180ftlbs that nets over 40mpg on the highway would be the way to go. Use the electric to get you going and the gas motor to keep you going. Putting an 8 gallon tank in it wouldn’t take up much battery room and you could, worst case, still drive it solely on gas, it would just suck/be a limp mode situation.

  14. I wonder what the electrical infrastructure of plumbing/HVAC etc. Will be in 4 years. Yes companies can hold on to their gas models and the ICE Ford Transit is waiting if needed but imagine trying to charge a fleet of 15,25,50 vans overnight. That’s going to be a ton of amps. Let’s assume L2 charging for 25 vans, that would be about 1000amps just for vehicles alone I’m guessing most businesses don’t have breakers with that capability and if they do they are using it for something already.
    This is going to be tricky to transition.
    Maybe they could have a smart charging system that only charges a few vans at a time?

    1. I work for an electrical contractor that installs EV chargers and other clean-energy tech. Your point is valid—that’s going to be a hurdle for sure. If you’re trying to charge up a fleet of that size, chances are your shop doesn’t have a big enough electrical service to support it. Upgrading that will not be cheap, to say nothing of installing all those chargers—you’ll probably need to rip up your whole parking lot to run the wiring for them, and that’s just the start. It’s going to be a major factor in terms of the ROI calculation for electrifying your fleet.

      There are some mitigating factors, though. One, there may be incentives from GM and/or state and federal governments to help pay for the “make-ready” work required to support EV fleets. Two, the transition doesn’t have to be and likely shouldn’t be instant—businesses won’t sell off their perfectly good ICE vehicles all at once, they’ll phase in the EVs as they make new purchases/leases. Three, a lot of companies let their employees take their vans home at night, both as a perk of the job and also because sometimes it’s more efficient if your people don’t have to stop at the shop before and after every day’s work. Installing a Level 2 charger at an individual house when you assign an EV to someone is not nearly such a big deal, assuming the employee in question lives somewhere where that’s an option.

      It’s still going to be a hurdle, but it’s one that companies are going to have to jump eventually. EVs are going to get more and more mainstream, and if they’re much cheaper to run than ICE, companies who *don’t* adopt them will eventually find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. If your business doesn’t move with the times, it will eventually die. The cost of transition probably will cause some casualties—but the benefits will open up some new opportunities, as well.

      1. The other element of this equation is supply-side charge management. There’s no reason that all the vehicles have to be charged at the same time, especially if it won’t take the whole night to charge them. There would be a reduced number of chargers but the same number of charge cables, and every van is plugged in. Then a fleet manager could set up a schedule that charges the first 5 to full, then charges the next 5, and so on in whatever size groups make sense. That keeps your peak power requirement down. Many charger companies sell this management software as part of larger charger installs.

      2. You’ve planted an interesting idea in my head… Maybe the contractor’s shop doesn’t have enough power to charge their fleet at night, but in the same industrial park there’s a production shop that has tons of 3-phase power – maybe even 480VAC – that they’re not using at night. They could install for-profit chargers that only are available from 5pm to 8am. Hmmm…

  15. When they sold off Opel and Vauxhall, GM lost their ability to play in the Americanized Euro-van space. Makes no sense to design and build a brand-new ICE van at this time.

    On a related note, the 4 cylinder Diesel engine option for these vans is gone for 2023.

    1. What? No! One of these with the 2.8 diesel would be a pretty sweet tow vehicle for those not in a hurry.

      Have they dropped the 4.3 as well, since it isn’t going to be in the pickup trucks anymore? What are they going to offer, just the 6.6 V8?

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