The Nissan NV line of vans might not be long for this world. A report from Automotive News cites unnamed sources “familiar with the plans” as proof that Nissan will extricate itself from the U.S. commercial van market.
“We don't want to go more in the business of vans in the U.S.," a Nissan source told AN.
We asked Nissan about the report and received this statement back: "Nissan is considering a number of opportunities to streamline the product portfolio and drive efficiencies within our manufacturing operations. We will provide updates as available."
That's no confirmation, but there could be some official news coming down the pipeline soon. Both the NV Cargo and NV Passenger vans are built off heavy-duty Titan frames and built in the U.S. The NV200 is a much smaller van that’s built in Mexico and competes with a van like the Ford Transit Connect. All of Nissan’s entries are aging without updates on the horizon, and they’re not leading the market anywhere either.
Ford, GM and FCA dominated this market when Nissan entered just under a decade ago, and nothing has changed since. Nissan sold nearly 39,000 commercial vans last year, while Ford moved about 240,000. GM topped 100,000, and FCA was just under 70,000 commercial vans. Nissan is ahead of Mercedes (Metris and Sprinter), but not by a wide margin.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been behind the wheel of a Nissan NV of any kind, but we did drive the big NV and smaller NV200 when they launched. It’s difficult to compete with the Ford Transit van, which is available in a dizzying number of configurations compared to Nissan’s vans.
AN cites a number of other reasons for the NV’s poor performance. The shared truck chassis forced a longer front end and passenger compartment than others, which cut down on total cargo space — the long nose also made maneuvering a bigger hassle. Many commercial fleet buyers also purchase their trucks and vans together, and since the F-150 is so popular, it just makes sense for folks to buy Ford vans, too.
We’ve been hearing plenty of news out of Nissan about shrinking the company’s portfolio as of late. However, slashing these few vans from the lineup doesn’t mean Nissan is exiting the commercial space entirely. The alliance with Renault has already led to a rebadged Nissan NV300 (Renault Traffic) that’s sold in Europe. If Nissan wanted, it could Americanize the van and bring it over here to keep a tiny foothold in the U.S. commercial landscape. Nissan could also go the electric route with something unique. The e-NV200 was revealed a few years ago, but we haven’t seen the electric van come stateside yet. GM recently announced an electric van venture that will be coming in the near future, so Nissan’s experience in electric vehicles could prompt a similar entry one day.