Archive for February 3, 2011

Later in 2011, probably in the last quarter, Nissan will begin to sell a commercial van that easily rivals the ancient offerings from Ford (Econoline/E-series  full-size vans) and Chevrolet (Express series).

2012 Nissan NV commercial vans

The Ford and Chevy vans haven’t changed much in decades. These pictures, with some minor cosmetic changes, could have come from any of the past 25 years.

2011 Ford E-Series Passenger and Cargo Van

2011 Chevy Express Cargo Van

Dodge used to sell a commercial van, but that’s long gone.  Until recently, Dodge sold a rebadged Ram version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, but after the Daimler-Chrysler divorce, those vans are now sold directly by Mercedes.

2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van

And let’s not forget that Dodge is no longer in the truck business.  New task-master Fiat split off Ram Trucks into a separate brand.  Fiat may eventually market its commercial trucks in the US under the Ram brand.

2011 Fiat Ducato Cargo Van - A line of commercial Fiat vans like this may be marketed in the US under the Ram Brand

The Nissan NV Utility Vans are based on the Nissan Titan pickup truck, sharing the frame and drivetrains. It will come in three variants: The 1500 is a light duty van and two heavy duty vans, a 2500 and 3500.  The HD versions can be ordered with a tall roof, similar to that available on the Mercedes Sprinter.   The base engine is a 4.0 liter V6, while Nissan’s ubiquitous 5.6 liter V8 is optional or standard, depending on configuration.  Diesel power is promised sometime after introduction, but no timetable or details are forthcoming from Nissan.  All will have an automatic transmission.

2012 Nissan NV Cargo Van with the high roof option.

2012 Nissan NV cockpit. Looks very similar to the interior of the Nissan Titan pickup truck.

Our friends at have this great video giving details on the production NV shown at the 2010 Work Truck Show in St. Louis, MO.

My only problem with these new vans is their size. That snout, in addition to the cavernous cargo area, will make these things very hard to park and drive in the congested city.

Ford’s Transit Connect, which looks like a much smaller version of the NV,  is a much better urban fit for most contractors who don’t need the cargo and weight capacity of a gigantic pickup truck.  Further, the Transit Connect will be available in an electric version this year, making it a great fit for fleets that don’t need to drive long distances every day and can recharge each night.

2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric

I think the NV may nudge Ford and GM to update their commercial vans and the Mercedes Sprinter will get its first direct competition.