Most delivery vehicles are large like those used by UPS or FedEx. In more dense urban areas, smaller-sized vehicles are becoming increasingly common due to lower cost, smaller size, and greater suitability for smaller businesses. These vehicles are typically used for local deliveries such as floral deliveries, food service, etc.
Ford has been selling the Transit Connect in the United States since 2010 while the Nissan NV 200 has been more recently introduced into the US market. The Nissan NV 200 has primarily been marketed as a taxi replacement though a delivery version will be available for sale in the United States starting in 2014. Currently, these vehicles represent a small fraction of all commercial vehicles sold. The primary delivery firms (Fed Ex, UPS, etc) still primarily use larger vehicles. In the United States, most sales have been limited to denser cities such as New York where parking and roadway width is at a premium. Electrically powered versions of these types of vehicles should be commercially available within the foreseeable future.
5-20 Year Evolution
Absent outside influences, the market for these vehicles is likely to remain limited except in areas with significant physical constraints. One watershed moment will be if a major user of the current delivery vehicles such as Fed Ex, UPS, or the Post Office will transition their current fleet to these other types of vehicles. Any deployment of these vehicles is likely to be incremental with significant private market or public sector intervention. One scenario where there vehicles may be more widely deployed is if we see significant growth in small scale manufacturing (3D printing) instead of continued distribution from centralized locations.
Relationship to Other Tech
There are some potential synergies with electric vehicles in which these smaller scale delivery vehicles are electrically powered, which will further reduce potential emissions associated with deliveries.
Large scale deployment of these vehicles has the potential to fundamentally change roadway design within urban areas by reducing curb radii, which is often needed for larger delivery vehicles instead of passenger vehicles.