Trucks: Glimpse of the future

Commercial vehicle sales may be tumultuous, but that isn’t stopping Nissan from looking to the future. The company plans to roll into the Class 3 to 5 commercial vehicle markets in the first half of 2010 by introducing three vehicles equipped with Cummins engines and ZF transmissions.

The vehicles will be produced at Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi, and Nissan is currently analyzing which of its 1,070 U.S. dealers will be good candidates for the 250 to 300 commercial vehicle dealer slots the company hopes to fill in the next few years.

“If we were introducing production vehicles today it would be a tough process,” says Joe Castelli, vice president, light commercial vehicles and fleet, Nissan North America. “But this is a cyclical business and it seems 2010 will be a little bit better picture.”
Nissan hinted at what its production vehicles will be like with the NV2500 and NV200 concept van unveilings in December. The NV2500 is built on the Nissan Titan’s all-steel platform, and is designed with contractors in mind. The NV200 is much smaller and its sliding cargo pod design is more suited to niche markets outside of construction.

Form and function
Standing at a total height of 8 feet, the NV2500 has a 147.6-inch wheelbase and measures 19.5 feet long. On the exterior, the van features a wide grille, wraparound windshield and front door windows and lower door glass cutouts. The large windows and cutouts, along with a glass panel roof and integrated solar panel, provide the interior with ample light.
“When you think of traditional truck customers they are looking for basic functionality,” Castelli explains. “In addition to hauling tools, this concept van uses a multi-functionality approach: you can actually fold down a conference table in the back and conduct meetings on site.”

The van includes a computer workstation and built-in laser printer, in-door storage compartments, tool tie-down racks, nearly 6 feet of interior height, a cargo bay and an awning-style side door, which opens to reveal the workshop table. To make complete use of interior room, the front passenger seat slides on an in-floor track for use with both the front seating area and the rear workstation.

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A wide instrument panel with a customizable navigation/audio/climate display, accessory power outlet and a built-in retractable power cord takes center stage on the front dash. Nissan maximized storage on the NV2500 with an in-ceiling storage console and a lighted storage closet with a mudroom style drainage floor located behind the driver’s seat.
Nissan also included features such as compressed air outlets on the back panel doors, compressed bamboo floors and an on-board Shop-Vac.

It’s unclear whether Nissan will carry over ideas from the NV2500 or NV200 for the commercial vehicles it plans to launch in 2010.