2012 Nissan NV to compete with Ford, GM in commercial van segment

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 29, 2011

Nissan North America’s new 2012 NV, the commercial vans that are being produced in its plant in Canton, Miss., will go on sale in late February. With this model, Nissan is entering a segment dominated by the Detroit 3.

In particular, Nissan’s 2012 NV will go up against the Ford E series, General Motors' GMC Savana, Chevrolet Express cargo vans, and the Freightliner Sprinter, which Dodge had been selling but is now available at Freightliner dealers.

Joe Castelli, Nissan North America's vice president for light commercial vehicles and fleet, admitted that the van’s rivals are formidable as Ford and GM make up 95% of the segment.

Castelli compares Nissan to being the “new kids on the job site.” However, he also calls this new van a “segment buster” that aims to appeal to home builders, plumbers, house painters, florists and shuttle operators by offering a more modern vehicle.

The NV features pickup-style front seats and it offers a tall-roof option that allows users to walk around in the cargo area. The NV also has pre-drilled cargo mounts in the vehicle body. This feature makes it easier and less expensive for van up-fitters to install racks and shelves.

The new Nissan NV200 is entering the small van market in Europe as well as in other markets. The company has designed the NV200 to offer unprecedented levels in terms of comfort, practicality, and space. This is because it was originally designed to be a passenger vehicle and a commercial one.

Three versions will be offered, with one being a van that offers what may be the largest load space for its segment. The remaining two are seven-seater variants with the first being a functional Combi version that allows for passenger and loads and the second being a passenger car version but with more luxurious features.

The latter is expected to debut during the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Senior Vice President for Global Product Planning Andy Palmer shared that its Nissan LCV business remains to be under an expansion phase despite the financial trying period. The company hopes to grow its business by offering new products and new services aimed at meeting the needs of its different customers not just in Europe but across the world, he said.

Palmer continued that the company is offering the Nissan NV200 as a global small van given its low cost and the fact that it offers smart convenience and outstanding utility, presented in a very functional design.

The goal of this model is to meet what customers look for in a light van, adaptability and functionality. The company, he added, hopes to launch this model before summer to Japan, then in Europe by the autumn of 2009, and after which it will be launched in China and other markets. In order to have the most practical and largest cargo area in its segment, the Nissan NV200 utilized state-of-the-art packaging ideas. While the overall length is barely 4.4 meters, the van version will have a load bay that is at least 2 meters (2,040 mm) long.

In fact, the Nissan NV200 can fit in two standard Euro pallets on its cargo area. This is all due to the front-wheel drive as well as the adoption of a highly compact rear suspension system. The height of the NV200 stands at 1.84 meters, the same as that of its competitors.

However the floor is only around 520 mm from the ground, making it the lowest in its segment. As a result, loading is easy. Cargo volume is at 4.1 cubic meters with maximum payload measured at 771 kg. For a van, having a large cargo area is important. However the Combi version of the NV200 also means that the large interior version could mean enough passenger space. The Combi also makes sure that the seats stay in place.

This represents an advantage despite the fact that other van manufacturers put in removable seats. The same seats that not only are difficult and heavy to lift but have to be stored somewhere while not in use. Still for the Combi, the middle row backrest allows for a 60/40 split thereby improving its versatility.

Its entire assembly also rolls forward and then folds flat on the front seats. The rear pair meanwhile can be folded individually to each of the load area’s side. When the NV200 was created, extra attention was given to make sure that quality was top-of-the-line especially with the panel gaps and shut lines that meet the demands of passenger car customers.

The van is offered to have a side window as an option. Its difference with the passenger version is that the rear has the twin side hinged "French" doors. Though the two seven-seaters have a top hinged tailgate that is fully-glazed, the Combi will have the French doors. The two seven-seaters will also have windows on each door and allows a sliding section to give extra ventilation.

Topics: nissan, nissan nv, ford, gm, van

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