Nissan's all-new 2011 NV full-size cargo vans are just the first products in a series of light commercial vehicles that will be built off its Nissan Titan-derived ladder frame. People-carrying vans are also planned.
"We're going to try to bring a passenger version along in the next 12 to 18 months," said Joe Castelli, vice president, Nissan Commercial Vehicles and Fleet. "The full-size commercial vehicle market is like a big jigsaw puzzle, and passenger vans are a nice piece of the segment. Bus versions are also a nice piece."
Before then, Nissan has work to do building a specialized dealer network that will sell and service its vans. Castelli expects to have 300 to 350 dealers signed up, or about 30 percent of Nissan's current U.S. dealer network.
"This isn't a segment that every dealer wants to have," Castelli said. "It requires a financial investment. Service requirements include a 30,000 pound lift, extended service hours, and parts delivered to the field. There are also different warranties and extended service contracts [than passenger cars and trucks]."
But for those dealers that sign up to sell Nissan's LCVs, Castelli said they can expect a steady cadence of products as the lineup grows over the next several years.
The first vans will only be available with a choice of a 4.0-liter V-6 or 5.6-liter V-8 gasoline engines. Optional Cummins diesel engines are expected later for stripped chassis trucks and cutaway vans.
"I think diesel is still further down the road for us, for more advanced pieces of the segment," Castelli said.
For now, the vans will compete on innovative features. They will offer the only full-size, high-roof, body-on-frame configuration in the segment, a long-nose layout that places the engine in front of the driver like a pickup truck and cool features like storage beneath the driver's seat that can be pulled out when the door is open.
Castelli says they also plan to be competitive on price.