Nissan eye on Europe hints at U.S. activity

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. wants to grow its light commercial vehicle (LCV) business in Europe by 2010 by introducing new products and expanding its dealer network. And that effort could become a model for growing its LCV business in the U.S

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. wants to grow its light commercial vehicle (LCV) business in Europe by 2010 by introducing new products and expanding its dealer network. And that effort could become a model for growing its LCV business in the U.S. A key part of the plan involves the introduction of a new light van as well, according to the OEM.

“Nissan has a long tradition in the European LCV sector and plays a key role in important markets like Spain, Italy, France and the U.K.,” said Brian Carolin, senior vp-sales & marketing for Nissan Europe. “We plan to … introduce competitive new products and enhance our dealer network to do so.”

Nissan plans to continue offering light-duty trucks with cab-over-engine configurations, But it said it will also reinforce its van lineup and create a dedicated sales channel for light-duty trucks plus continue to promote network partnerships, such as the one it has with Volvo Trucks, in markets where the Nissan truck network is not sufficiently developed.

Thanks to a series of recently inked franchise agreements with Volvo Trucks' dealer networks, Volvo Truck dealers in Germany, Great Britain, and Northern and Eastern Europe are now allowed to sell Interstar, Cabstar and Atleon models, said Carolin.

As part of its dealer network activity, Nissan also plans to establish “Van Competency Centres” (VCC) in Nissan car dealerships to ensure that professional van personnel directly look after both individual and company customers, he added.

These efforts may be reproduced at the Light Commercial Vehicle and Fleet Division of Nissan North America (NNA), formed only in early 2006. The company already has exceeded its target of 434,000 LCV sales globally, as it sold 489,579 LCVs globally last year, generating a consolidated operating profit margin of more than 8% a year ahead of its plan.

In Europe alone in 2006, Nissan sold 48,778 LCVs, with the Primastar medium van its most popular LCV, selling 17,996 units, followed by the Cabstar light-duty truck, which sold 13,879 units.

Nissan’s new small van concept, the NV200 – due for its worldwide debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October – is earmarked to play a key role in helping build the company’s commercial vehicle sales volume.

Jointly developed by the Nissan Design Center in Japan and Nissan Design Engineering in Paddington, London, the NV200 represents a departure from previous light-truck designs, said Shiro Nakamura, senior vp & chief creative officer for Nissan Motor Co.

“A light commercial vehicle has a specific job to perform, but that’s no reason to design a purely rational vehicle with no warmth,” he said. “Our NV200 concept is of a highly efficient tool but one with a human touch.”

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