Built to do the job

June 3, 2010
by Howard Elmer

The National Truck Equipment Association hosts an annual Work Truck Show each year. Earlier this spring, it took place in St Louis, Missouri.

It’s primarily an upfitters show, however many OEMs have used it to provide a first look at products aimed at the fleet market. This year Nissan did just that.

The Nissan NV aims to merge the best attributes of pickup trucks with commercial vans.

Nissan’s commercial van, the NV, was first shown in Detroit two years ago as a concept. At the time, many (myself included) wondered why the automaker was thinking of moving into this market.

Now that I’ve seen the production version I understand. First, Nissan has (rightly) recognized that commercial vans are an underserviced market. Domestic options have been changing at a glacial pace. The overwhelming success of vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit Connect proves the selling opportunities that currently exist in North America.

An unusual appearance
In St Louis, Nissan showed us its new North American commercial van lineup, which includes three models: the 2011 Nissan NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD. These will be available with a choice of a 4.0-litre V6 or 5.6-litre V8 engine, both matched to a standard five-speed automatic transmission.

There are two body styles to choose from: standard roof (available in all models) and high roof (available in the NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD only). Of course, these roof heights mimic what we have become used to in vehicles like the Sprinter. If the designations perform as indicated, the vans will be able to carry capacities between a half-ton and a full ton.

As the photos indicate, this is an unusual-looking van. It has a very distinct front end that resembles that of a pickup truck. I asked the design team about this and the answer is as forward thinking as the look of the van; this is the next line of Nissan pickup trucks, market willing.

You may remember that some six years ago Nissan introduced its Titan with much fanfare—but with little follow-up. In fact, the Titan has not been updated since. There have been on-again, off-again announcements of 2500- and 3500-series trucks coming to market, with new engines (including diesel) and a next-generation half-ton design. None of that has happened—until now.