Nissan e-NV200 van debuts in Japan, but is it a good fit for N.A?

Nissan planning chief Andy Palmer, left, and Executive Vice President Takao Katagiri introduce the Nissan e-NV200 in Yokohama, Japan. Photo credit: HANS GREIMEL

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan has launched the second electric vehicle in its promised four-EV lineup, but a North American debut of the e-NV200 compact commercial van is under review because of vehicle range and charging network concerns.

Nissan said today that the e-NV200 will go on sale here in October, priced between 3.88 million yen ($37,900) and 4.79 million yen ($46,700). Nissan aims to sell 500 units a month in Japan, where it qualifies for up to 850,000 yen ($8,295) in incentives.

The e-NV200 is made at Nissan’s Barcelona, Spain, plant, which will export it worldwide. The e-NV200 goes on sale this month in Europe and follows the Leaf hatchback as the second of four EVs Nissan pledges to sell by March 31, 2017.

The e-NV200 essentially borrows the Leaf’s electric drivetrain and wraps it in the boxy packaging of Nissan’s NV200 van.

Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer, who oversees Nissan’s global zero emissions business, said the e-NV200 is undergoing trial runs with U.S. and Canadian fleet customers.

“The question is the distance and, of course, the charging infrastructure,” Palmer said at today’s unveiling at Nissan’s global headquarters. “We still think it’s appropriate, but we haven’t made a decision yet whether to go with the e-NV.”

U.S. fleet vehicles tend to log longer runs than delivery trucks in other markets, making range a concern, Palmer said.

Initial intros in Europe and Japan made better sense, he said. Europe’s denser urban populations are better suited to shorter runs, while Japan has a well-developed vehicle charging infrastructure.

By many metrics, the e-NV200 notches big improvements over its gasoline stablemate. The electric version has faster, smoother acceleration thanks to an 80-kilowatt motor. It also has better handling thanks to a lower center of gravity and stiffer suspension than the gasoline version.

The 24 kilowatt-hour battery can also serve as an outside power source, delivering 1,500 watts of electricity through a standard outlet. Nissan showed one display model outfitted as a mobile cafe with a coffee machine plugged into the back and another as a car camper with an electric barbecue grill.

The e-NV200 costs more than its gasoline counterpart. But Nissan says that the e-NV200 has lower overall running costs, making it a good match for fleets. The company estimates that the electric version becomes a cheaper overall prospect after 51,000 miles.

Assuming the e-NV200 is driven about 850 miles a month, the breakeven point would be five years, Nissan said.

Compared with the Leaf, the e-NV200 has a shorter range, partly because it is about 440 pounds heavier.

The e-NV200 can cruise up to 118 miles on a single charge under Japan’s fuel economy testing mode, compared with 142 miles attained by the Leaf.

The e-NV200 delivers some advancement in battery technology. While the Leaf and e-NV200 battery packs deliver output of 24 kilowatt hours, the e-NV200’s battery is about 16 pounds lighter, which reduces overall vehicle weight and help extends range.

It also has a lower top speed of 70 mph, compared with the Leaf’s 89 mph.

One of the Nissan e-NV200s on display is outfitted as a mobile cafe with a coffee machine plugged into the back.
You can reach Hans Greimel at -- Follow Hans on Twitter: @hansgreimel



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