Nissan Motor Co. has unveiled the production version of the NV200 van at the ongoing Chicago Auto Show. Nissan is targeting the NV200 to compete against the pioneering small van in the United States, the Ford Transit Connect. Tom Smith, Nissan’s director of truck marketing, acknowledged that they have made Transit Connect as their benchmark for the NV200.
He quipped that they see that the Transit Connect is doing well in the US. He also mentioned the reasons why people are buying Ford’s small van. Smith remarked that like the Transit Connect, the NV200 has been on sale in Europe for years. He said that Nissan is bringing the NV200 to the US since they expect the small van market to continue growing as consumers become more concerned about fuel economy.
Ford currently faces very light competition in the front-wheel-drive compact cargo van segment in the US and is redesigning the Transit Connect for the 2014 model year.
Chrysler Group’s Ram brand is planning to enter the small van segment in 2014, using a platform from parent Fiat. The Nissan NV200 is more or less similar in footprint size to the Sentra compact sedan, being half a foot shorter than the Nissan Altima and 3-and-a-half feet shorter than the NV2500 full-sized commercial van.
The Nissan NV200 will be powered by the same 2-liter four-cylinder engine that runs the Sentra. Nissan will built the NV200 in its Aguascalientes plant in Mexico, supplying 320 of 1,100 Nissan dealers in the US who have chose to become commercial truck retailers.
NV200 promises to deliver fuel economy numbers of 24 mpg city/25 mpg highway/24 combined – a little better than the 21/27/23 mpg figures of the Transit Connect. Smith noted that consumers are trying to get into the small van segment, and “products just need to follow. The NV200, which will be rolled out on April 1, bears a starting price of $20,835, including freight.
The Combi version of the Nissan NV200 translates the usually large cargo area of the van into a large passenger room. Interestingly, the seats of the Nissan NV200 Combi are fixed, unlike other vans that are provided with removable seats that are usually heavy to lift and have to be placed elsewhere when not needed. Its middle row backrest features a 60/40 split, which means it is versatile enough to accommodate the needs of its van’s user. The middle seat assembly folds forward flat against the front seats, while the rear seats fold individually to either side of the cargo area.
Nissan gave assurances during the creation of Nissan NV200 that it is of high quality, as evident on its shut lines and panel gaps. Although the Combi van could be availed with a side window as an optional feature, it comes with twin side hinged "French" doors at the rear. Both the passenger and the Combi version boast of a fully glazed top hinged tailgate, although the latter is available with French doors. Moreover, the windows on both side doors feature a sliding section for added ventilation.
Underpinned by a modified version of Nissan's B Platform, the new NV200 supports itself with a fully independent strut type suspension on the front, as mounted on a separate sub-frame. At the rear, the van is supported by a compact, lightweight yet robust wide leaf spring rear axle.