Nissan Looks Forward to Building Light Commercial Vehicles, Including Hybrids, Electrics and Possible Heavy-Duty Pickup

Nissan NV2500 Commercial Van Concept

On the same day Nissan began a $118 million expansion of its Canton, Miss., assembly plant, where it will build light commercial vehicles for the North American market, the company unveiled the NV2500 full-size commercial van concept at the Work Truck Show.

"The NV2500 shows that we want to change the rules of the game," said Joe Castelli, Nissan's vice president of LCV and fleet. "We're looking forward to getting in and competing in the commercial segment by addressing customer needs with creativity."

The NV2500 concept features some of the creative (though not necessarily production-intent) ideas Nissan is thinking about, such as a mobile office and design workspace that includes a computer workstation, a fold-down conference table, numerous storage compartments, cargo/tool tie-down racks, nearly 6 feet of interior height and an awning-style side panel that opens to create an outside workshop table.

We'll have full video coverage of the NV2500 concept later this week.

Nissan NV2500 Commercial Van Concept

It's not just about providing the commercial market with new productivity tools and applications, though. Castelli says Nissan's North American LCV unit has to be green, too.

"A hybrid or electric vehicle has to be considered for commercial," Castelli said. "I'm pushing for these vehicles. The technology is going there and I think it's a good opportunity. If I'm at a construction site all day or I'm a florist making lots of stops every quarter-mile, then I can get away with an electric vehicle."

Castelli says a small van like the new Nissan NV200, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, would work better than a big van like the NV2500 as a fully electric vehicle, but at this point he's not saying no to any idea in LCV product development.

What about the Nissan Titan? Does the half-ton pickup still have a role to play after Chrysler and Nissan jointly announced they were halting plans for Chrysler to build the next-generation Titan off the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 platform?

"It's too early to speculate what might happen with Titan," Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman said. "It's still the plan to hopefully do the OEM agreement [with Chrysler], if it makes sense."

Castelli says there's a material need in Nissan's LCV plans for a work truck, regardless of what happens to the Titan in the short term. Parts of the current Titan might even evolve into something new.

"We've got to have something like a heavy-duty pickup," Castelli said. "Go by any construction site and there are still pickups there. I'm asking, can I build anything off the [current F-Alpha platform] Titan? Is the suspension heavy enough? Can I make a 250 [three-quarter-ton] or 350 [one-ton] out of it? Obviously, it has a different frame-rail system that precludes us from making a chassis cab out of it. Eventually, we also want to be in Classes 4 and 5, too. It's a long journey."

"I hope it works out [with Chrysler]," he said. "The [next-gen half-ton Titan] is a dynamite-looking truck."

Nissan NV2500 Commercial Van Concept


nissian hasnt even sold as many trucks as the ford ranger so far this year, with combined titan and frontier sales... if they cant sell more then fords 10+ yr old ranger what makes them think theyre gonna be able to break into the heavy duty market? i dont think they understand the hold the big three have on that market its much stronger then the half ton which they didnt exactly do much in either....

This thing is unconventional-looking on the outside...which could be perceived as "dynamic" or even "fun"...but I'm lukewarm on mish-mash of the lines, creases, and seams. However, the great interior packaging and utility is the stuff that should keep Ford (Econoline) and GM (Savanna/Express) brand managers awake at night. How long have the domestics been asleep at the wheel with their big van programs?

When Chrysler and GM fold, Nissan is poising itself to be ready to pick up their market share.

This is a smart move by Nissan.

Ross you are an idiot, Nissan isn't going to gain anything. The Titan is horrible on Gas mileage and the only thing it is segment leading in is off-roading. You think a truck that only sold 40,000 units last year is all of sudden going to start selling 100,000-200,000 units? If anyone is gaining market share its going to be Ford or Toyota.

The Titan is not horrible on gas mileage, it gets what most full-size trucks get. I average 16mpg in my Titan. Plus it has the best payload on a crew cab of over 2000lbs. Nissan isn't selling many because they spent next to nothing on marketing and the whole economic down turn. The first year problems didn't help either but they are fixed now. This truck is still very competitive even with today's "new and improved" designs. Nissan expanding into the LCV market is a great choice.

Here again we have an import nameplate who is exploring a new market. Nissan's Quest was a flop, the Titan and Armada have been so-so at best...and now they try to out-do the American-brand vans? Well, I won't be so quick to the competition (amongst the big vans) is not very stiff...unlike that found amongst trucks, suvs, and minvans. So maybe Ford and GM planners should put on a fresh pot of coffee and sharpen their pencils...and not continue to neglect their big utilitarian order to protect their share of the van market.

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