General Motors Mexico just launched the Chevrolet Tornado Van, an affordable delivery vehicle that might prove really enticing to the businesses of the PYMES category.
The acronym stands for “Pequeñas y Medianas Empresas,” which translates to Small and Midsize Enterprises, or in the U.S.: small businesses, for which affordability is key when it comes to their fleet vehicles.
GM’s been focused — as many automakers have — on producing electric vehicles, specifically delivery vans, that could help them meet the needs of freight and delivery services, especially in urban areas.
For now, the Detroit-based auto company’s big investment is in its BrightDrop subsidiary. It already has some deals signed, including one with FedEx. However, with the company’s self-imposed goal of being completely emissions free in a little more than a decade, an inexpensive, reliable extremely fuel-efficient model could be helpful in the transition.
Checking the boxes
The new Chevrolet Tornado Van fits the bill when it comes to price, coming in at 276,900 pesos, which taking in consideration an exchange rate of 19.88 pesos per U.S. dollar, equates to about $13,928 dollars — very affordable by U.S. standards.
This small delivery van is product of the SGMW joint venture between SAIC and GM in China. It is a Wuling Hongguang V van that has been rebadged as a Chevrolet for sale in Mexico.
It is a small van: 174.2 inches long, 65.7 inches wide and 73.2 inches high, making it shorter than a Buick Envision, which is 182.5 inches long.
The Tornado is powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine putting out 103 horsepower and 108 pound-feet of torque. It really shines when it comes to fuel economy getting 33.8 mpg in the city, and 45.1 mpg highway, according to GM Mexico.
The engine is mated to a manual 5-speed transmission and is rear-wheel drive. Its rear suspension uses leaf springs while brakes are discs up front and drums in the back.
Good for business
The mighty mite boasts a cargo payload rating of 1,431 pounds, while cargo space is 116 cubic feet. It is worth mentioning that it has a sliding door on each side, making for easy access no matter where it’s parked, a bonus for curbside deliveries.
The sides are windowless which is good for business owners who put their logo on their fleet vehicles for free advertising. The rear hatch does have a glass window and the divider between the cabin and the cargo area is tubular, so the inside rearview mirror is actually usable.
The Chevrolet Tornado Van is clearly a no-frills vehicle for work — just look at the manual front windows and sideview mirrors.
But for a work vehicle it is surprisingly well-equipped, coming with an AM/FM radio and air conditioning, which means that its driver will not have to sweat in silence while working. It has cloth upholstery, two cupholders, a USB charge port and its analog gauges include a tachometer.
What’s old is new again
The exterior design is somewhat reminiscent of the Chevrolet Uplander minivan, sold in the U.S. during the 2005-2008 model years, due to the elongated front end.
And even though the Chevrolet Tornado sells at a rock bottom price, it has niceties such as color-keyed bumpers and 14-inch aluminum wheels.
Safety equipment on the subcompact minivan is basic and complies with Mexican laws with two front airbags and ABS brakes.
The Chevrolet line-up in Mexico is very interesting, because besides vehicles manufactured in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, it also includes models made in India and China.
And it looks like the Chinese manufacturers eventually intend to use Mexico as a launching pad to start manufacturing and selling cars and trucks in the U.S. in the future. Could the Tornado be the next offering, after the aforementioned Buick Envision? Possibly.