Nissan: “Innovation” hallmark of full-size van lineup

Nissan: “Innovation” hallmark of full-size van lineup

MIAMI. Over five years in the making and boasting what Nissan executives touted as a “clean sheet breakthrough design” aimed at “addressing real-world customer needs,” the OEM officially launched the Nissan NV (“Nissan Van”) line here yesterday, marking the global manufacturer’s entry into the U.S. full-size commercial van market

All-new 2012 Nissan NV commercial-van lineup offers “standard roof” versions for three distinct models as well as “high roof” versions for two of those three models.

MIAMI. Over five years in the making and boasting what Nissan executives touted as a “clean sheet breakthrough design” aimed at “addressing real-world customer needs,” the OEM officially launched the Nissan NV (“Nissan Van”) line here yesterday, marking the global manufacturer’s entry into the U.S. full-size commercial van market.

Photos from the Nissan NV rollout

The NV lineup consists of three models: the NV1500, the NV2500HD and the NV3500 HD. Clearly determined not to miss any part of its target market, Nissan is offering the two HD-designated models in both “Standard” and “High Roof” versions. Production is already under way at the OEM’s Canton, MS, manufacturing plant.

The three NV models will be available with either 4.0-liter V6 or 5.6-liter V8 engines, both mated to a 5-spd. automatic transmission provided as standard equipment. The High Roof models allow “stand-up walkthrough/work cargo area capability,” according to Nissan, which noted the roofs are high enough for a person 6 ft., 3 in. tall to stand up in the cargo area.

Nissan previously released pricing for the NV models. Company officials noted at the Miami press launch that the vans will be offered at a “very competitive price, with MSRPs below the competition.”

“As the first non-domestic nameplate to design, manufacture and sell commercial vehicles in the United States, we bring a more than seven-decade tradition of durability, quality and reliability to our products,” stated Joe Castelli, vp of Commercial Vehicles and Fleet, Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA). “At the same time, we’ve taken a fresh look at every aspect of the commercial vehicle business – including styling, powertrain, interiors, cost of operation and ownership, dealership sales and service operations and, most importantly, real-world customer needs.

“We’ve invested more than five years researching the comfort, style and smart functionality demands that will enable business owners to accomplish more throughout their day [with NV vans],” he added. “We plan on coming out of the box with segment-busting vehicles, so customer input was essential. The NV is one of the most researched projects ever in the history of Nissan. We touched the market at every point possible, with the findings reflected in every aspect of the final NV design.”

Key elements of that design, said Peter Bedrosian, senior manager of product planning, include pickup-truck-like “packaging,” a bold exterior and “innovative interior space, as well as an all-new “commercial-duty chassis’ and a “user-friendly cargo area with built-in business solutions.”

Bedrosian explained that the reasons the vans would appeal to pickup truck owners are that they offer protection from the weather, theft prevention, overnight storage of equipment and materials and “rolling billboard” advertising space.

Mike Hobson, director of light commercial & fleet vehicles, told Fleet Owner that with the economy improving and the fact that light trucks are typically replaced by fleets every three years, “buyers who shied away from vans [because they either did not like driving them or found serviceability an issue] may be brought back” by the “innovative” features of the NV design. He also said Nissan “believes some Sprinter buyers will look at” the NV as well as owners of Ford and GM/Chevy full-size vans.

Hobson pointed out that a major contributor to the “pickup-like cab” is the absence of the engine “doghouse” that intrudes into the cab due to the setback engine placement of traditional vans. By contrast, the NV models have a conventional truck layout with “out-front engine design.” Along with freeing up space under the instrument panel and between the seats, it provides “easy under-hood access” to the entire engine for routine service and maintenance.

Cargo-area floor length is 120 in. and the maximum cargo floor width is 70.2 in. NV Standard Roof models have a maximum 55.8-in. cargo area height, among the tallest in class, said Bedrosian while the NV High Roof models have a maximum 76.9-in. cargo area height.

According to Bedrosian, the NV was also designed to accommodate aftermarket customization and modifications. He pointed out that the roof attachment points are designed to accommodate installation of various ladder or utility rack systems without piercing holes in the roof, which can lead to corrosion and water leaks. Available “upfitter pre-wiring” allows easy access into the electrical system.

The NV also offers multiple reinforced integrated attachment points for installation of cargo customization equipment – again requiring no sheet metal drilling, said Bedrosian. And he noted that the NV’s nearly vertical sidewalls maximize the usable cargo space, accommodating common aftermarket storage systems, as well as a bulkhead behind the driver.

Safety features of the NV vans include dual-stage supplemental front air bags, three-point front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, available supplemental front seat-mounted side-impact air bags as well as roof-mounted supplemental curtain air bags.

Hobson also told Fleet Owner that Nissan has its Japan and Europe market NV200—a smaller van model— “under study” for adapting to the U.S. market. He said this van competes overseas in the same vehicle segment as the Ford Transit Connect and added that Nissan was also looking at offering the NV200 as an electric vehicle here.

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