Nissan North America Inc. plans to penetrate the commercial van business in the U.S. by directly taking on the main players (Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.) What Nissan considers as its edge is that its van is a new design, while Ford's and GM's vehicles have older van platforms.
The market of workhorse vans -- the large, boxy cargo vehicles preferred by house painters, electricians and florists -- is dominated by Ford and GM.
Both controlled 96% of the U.S. full-sized commercial van segment in 2010 with the Ford E series and the GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express.
The Sprinter van accounts for the remaining part of the segment. This van has variously shown up as a Dodge, a Freightliner and is currently a Mercedes product. Nissan Motor Co. Carlos Ghosn looks at this as a big challenge.
Nissan's commercial vehicle business makes up for 20% of its global volume, and Ghosn wants to achieve a comparable contribution from Nissan's North American commercial vehicle sales.
Nissan has been in North America for half a century but its commercial vehicle share is zero. For it to matter in this market, Nissan's new full-sized NV van has to draw some of the market share away from North America's biggest and most well-established players.
Nissan is launching the NV this month at approximately one-fourth of its 1,100 U.S. retailers.
From the outset, the Nissan NV200 was designed to serve either commercial or passenger purposes. It introduces space, comfort, and practical features into the global market of small vans.
Three versions of the Nissan NV200 will be made available to consumers. One version will feature the largest load space, and there will be two variants of the seven-seater. One will be a functional version combining load space and passengers. The other will be a plush version for passengers, which is set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show 2009.
Andy Palmer said that even in a financially challenging circumstance, the Nissan LCV business is expanding. The Senior Vice President for Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.’s Global Product Planning division further explained that the business expansion is aimed at meeting the needs for smart products and services of their customers, not just in Europe but globally as well.
The Nissan NV200, he added, is the company’s global small van proposal. Ownership is convenient and comes at a low cost without compromising utility and functionality. It is packaged to address the need for adaptable and functional light vans. Nissan will launch the model before summer in Japan, in autumn 2009 in Europe, followed by China and the rest of the world’s markets.
Cargo space maximized
Using innovative ideas, Nissan created the largest cargo space in its class for the Nissan NV200. Also considered the most practical in its class, the 4.4m van version has a 2m long (or 2040mm) load bay.
The Nissan NV200 has a maximum payload of 771kg. Thanks to its front-wheel drive and compact rear suspension system, the van can load two standard Euro pallets at a time. The NV200 is 1.84m high and is elevated at 520mm from the ground, the lowest floor level in the class. This translates to easier loading and a boost to 4.1m3 in cargo volume.
While its large cargo area is a necessary feature of a van, the benefits of spacious interior dimensions cannot be understated. In the Combi version, the large interior of the Nissan NV200 translates to sufficient passenger space.
Unlike vans with heavy-to-lift removable seats, the Nissan NV200 Combi version has seats that are not removable but can still offer ample space. The 60/40 split feature for the middle row backrest improves versatility, plus if you need more space, you can simply work the entire assembly such that it tumbles forward and then folds flat against the seats in front. The rear pair at the load area can also be folded individually and to either side.
The Nissan NV200 was created paying close attention to the highest quality of panel gaps and shut lines, as well as taking into account the expectations of buyers of passenger vehicles.
An optional side window is available for the van but the passenger versions have hinged French doors at the rear. Top-hinged tailgates will be available for both seven-seater vans but French doors will also be made available to the Combi versions. For extra ventilation, the windows will have a sliding section on both side doors.