Nissan decides to fly in the face of conventional wisdom and unveils two concept commercial vehicles.
Aimed squarely at the construction market
The truck business in the United States is not exactly “robust” at the moment. The lack of credit as well as a slump in the construction industry has caused sales of commercial vehicles to tumble right along with the rest of the industry.
Nissan, however, has decided to polish up the old crystal ball and look into the future. What it sees is the opportunity to take advantage of the aging vehicles offered up by U.S. manufacturers. Buoyed up by the success of its commercial vehicles sales in Mexico, Asia and Europe, the company has decided to enter the fray in North America by 2010.
How will they do it? Well, it just so happens that the company’s last effort at marketing a full-sized pickup in the guise of the Titan was slightly less than a home run. After spending a boatload of money (an estimated $1 billion) on development and building a brand-new plant to produce it, Nissan announced earlier this year that production would end in 2010 and the company would, instead, farm the work out to Chrysler. So as you can see, the door closes on pickup production while a window of opportunity opens up for commercial vehicle production at the same facility.
Today, Nissan unveiled two concept vehicles at the Nissan Technology Center North America in Farmington Hills, Michigan. One, the NV200 Concept, had already seen the light of day at the Tokyo Motor Show as well as various motor shows in Europe. The NV2500, on the other hand, is a brand new vehicle concept developed specifically for the U.S. Market.
Sitting on a 111.4-inch wheelbase and standing 72.4 inches tall, the NV200 was jointly developed by Nissan’s design centers in Japan and Europe. The cab-forward design features conventional driver and passenger doors and access to the workspace is accomplished by a single sliding door on the passenger side.
A skylight in the rear portion of the vehicle keeps the work area well lit, while the front skylight incorporates a solar panel to help power such on-board features as a laptop computer.
The most interesting feature of the NV200 and the one least likely to find its way into production is an integral “pod” that slides from the rear of the van and, once deployed, sits on legs that drop down from the underside of the unit.
Built on a modified Nissan Titan frame, the NV2500 Concept has a 147.6-inch wheelbase and measures 19.5 feet bumper-to-bumper. The vehicle measures 8 feet in height and 6.6 feet in width. With the passenger seat moved out of the way, there is room inside for objects of up to 10.5 feet in length. Like the NV200, the Concept’s roof panel features an integrated solar panel to power interior equipment.
Inside, the NV2500 features a “wall-less” mobile office/workspace design that features a computer workstation, a folding conference table, almost 6 feet of interior height and a side panel that opens, awning-like, to create a standing outside work table.
According to Bruce Campbell, VP of Design for Nissan Design America, “Aside from construction site applications, the NV2500 Concept, with its unique configuration and array of features, could be used in infinite ways by infinite users. Whether a mobile Farmers’ Market booth, a hot-air balloon launch or chase vehicle or to support a beachside surfing school, the usage possibilities of Commercial Vehicles are endless.”
The Bottom Line
Both concept vehicles are quite stunning and certainly light-years ahead of the current crop of commercial vehicles sold in the U.S. Hopefully, there will be a reinvigorated housing and construction market by the time the first of Nissan’s commercial vehicles are launched in the first half of 2010.