ST. LOUIS -- The NV2500 commercial van Nissan Motor Co. unveiled here last week had unimposing blank sides and a bare interior -- but it was loaded with features that Nissan hopes will shake up the U.S. full-sized commercial van segment.
"We believe there is an opportunity here," Brian Carolin, Nissan's senior vice president for North American sales and marketing, said here at the 2010 Work Truck Show. "Our dealers are telling us that customers want something new that isn't available on the market."
The industry sold 601,850 large vans in 2009, down from an already soft tally of 862,640 in 2008. Nissan declined to predict sales of the van, which will reach showrooms in fall. But Joe Castelli, a former Ford Motor Co. truck executive who is heading Nissan's entry into commercial trucks, said "the door is wide open" for Nissan to grab a share of the business.
"Commercial van owners are some of the least-satisfied owners of any segment," he said.
The van was designed and engineered in Nissan's U.S. studios with some interesting features:
-- A center console for personal storage needs -- something Nissan claims is nonexistent among its competitors. A walking tour of the truck show failed to prove Nissan wrong.
-- Double reinforcement on the exit side of driver and passenger seats compensates for occupants climbing in and out of their trucks all day. The seat seams are located lower than normal so that hours of sitting and pressure don't rip them open.
-- Anchor holes are pre-drilled into the sides of the cargo box interior. That will enable buyers to install and secure utility shelving without drilling into the vehicle's metal and risking corrosion.
"That's good thinking," said Brent MacLean, vice president of Vanteriors, a Mississauga, Ontario, supplier of commercial van interiors and racks who inspected the NV2500. "They've done their research. If your van has some of these things already installed, that will speed up the job of equipping the vehicle."