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Nissan loads van weapons

Two in one: Nissan's NV200 can be sold as a commercial workhorse or a family people-mover.

Nissan guns for the VW Caddy with a van range that may include the NV200

24 Apr 2009

NISSAN is banking on its commercial vehicle arm to contribute strongly to its “long-term strategic plan” of being Australia’s number-one full-line importer with 10 per cent Australian market share by 2012.

High on the list of hopefuls is the Volkswagen Caddy-sized NV200, which may arrive as early as next year.

Also known as the Vanette in some markets, the NV200 is an all-new light commercial van line from Japan that made its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March.

Like the Caddy and its seven-seater Life spinoff, the NV200 may even be sold as a people-mover as well as a workhorse in Australia.

Speaking at the launch of the J32 Maxima range near Melbourne, Nissan Australia CEO Dan Thompson confirmed that the return of the van was high on the company’s agenda.

“We think that vans are an integral part of Nissan’s future,” Mr Thompson said.

“And with the (Nissan-Renault) alliance, in the Nissan portfolio there are plenty of options that we have access to. We are building the right business case, and seeing what the timing is like.”

12 center imageAlthough Mr Thompson would not confirm that the NV200 is the vehicle to lead Nissan’s commercial van charge, he did reveal that it is under close scrutiny for Australia.

“It is one of many. There are many van derivatives and variations out there that we have access to.

“We hope in the course of 2012 (the long-term strategic plan) we definitely will have at least one van, if not more than one van, in the Nissan Australia line-up.

“It is a bit early to tell, we’re looking at all the options at the moment.”

Nissan claims that the NV200 has been designed from the outset to be both a load carrier and a people mover.

Aiding its workhorse persona, the NV200 has sliding side doors, 4.1 cubic metres of loading space and a two-metre load area within a total overall length of just under 4.4m (to make the NV200 “the largest load space in its class”, according to Nissan), and a maximum payload of 771kg. There is also a low floor, a roof height of 1.84 metres, and a front passenger seat that can be folded forward to enable even longer objects to be transported.

It remains to be seen if Nissan Australia will offer plusher passenger-car version or the Combi model that can carry passengers and load via a 60/40 split rear seat system that folds flat against the rear seats while the rearmost pair fold up on to the van walls to maximise cargo area.

A car-based monocoque design, the front-wheel drive NV200 is based on the ubiquitous Nissan B platform as seen in the Micra, Tiida and Renault Clio in Australia. It features MacPherson strut front suspension mounted on a separate sub-frame, and a compact leaf spring rear axle.

Engine choices for Europe include a 79kW/153Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, or a Renault-sourced 63kW/200Nm 1.5-litre dCi four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit allied to a five-speed automated transmission.

Hints of another Renault – the classic 1960s R4 – are evident in the form of a gearstick that juts out from centre console.

If the people-mover does come to Australia, it may include a rear parking camera, a plethora of storage solutions, keyless entry, power windows, ESC stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution and side airbags.

Nissan’s senior vice president of Global Product Planning, Andy Palmer, said: “We aim to expand our business with smart new products and services that meet the needs of our customers, both in Europe and around the world.

“With this vehicle, Nissan aims to meet the needs of customers looking for a functional, adaptable light van. We will launch the NV200 in Japan before summer, in Europe in autumn 2009 and then in China and other markets."

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