NASHVILLE -- General Motors will rebadge a vehicle already on sale at Nissan dealerships so Chevrolet dealers can offer a small cargo van.
GM said last week that it will sell a restyled version of Nissan's four-cylinder NV200 commercial van as the 2015 Chevrolet City Express in the fall of 2014.
The Nissan NV200, which is built in Cuernavaca, Mexico, went on sale last month.
Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of GM's fleet and commercial sales, said the van will be sold across Chevrolet's dealership network.
The compact van segment is slowly attracting automaker interest in the United States. Until now, Ford Motor Co. has enjoyed a virtual monopoly with the Transit Connect van. The smaller vehicles are being pitched as small-engine, fuel-efficient alternatives to the aging full-sized commercial vans, a segment in which the Detroit 3 have held sway for decades.
GM's fleet customers "told us they had a need for this product, something with a lot of cargo space that gets great fuel economy," Peper said.
The NV200 gets 24 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Demand for a small, fuel-efficient cargo vehicle has surged in recent years because of higher gasoline prices, Peper said in an interview. He expects to attract customers such as bakery or flower delivery companies that might now use SUVs or crossovers.
Peper said the City Express will fill the role of the Chevrolet HHR, which was a fleet favorite before the retro-styled wagon was discontinued in 2011.
GM said the City Express' front and rear ends have been restyled to incorporate Chevy design.
The van will be sold in the base LS trim and an LT model that will get cruise control, remote keyless entry and other features. Both will get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission.
Nissan has broader hopes for the van, which is approximately the size of a Nissan Sentra. Nissan intends to sell an electric version and will produce a taxi version in an exclusive deal with New York City.
This fall, Chrysler Group is expected to roll out the 2014 Ram ProMaster, based on the Fiat Ducato van, which has been on sale in Europe for more than 30 years.
The arrangement to supply the small van is a first in North America for GM and Nissan. While GM has worked with Nissan alliance partner Renault in Europe, and the U.S. and Japanese companies make a van in Europe, they have not had a similar project for the United States and Canada, said a Nissan spokesman.
In 2006, GM shareholder Kirk Kerkorian pushed then-CEO Rick Wagoner to forge an alliance with Renault-Nissan as a way to stem GM's losses. After a summerlong study, GM rejected the idea.
Nissan also has worked with Ford and Chrysler in the past.
In 1989, Nissan and Ford teamed up to co-design and produce front-wheel-drive minivans, which were sold as the Mercury Villager and Nissan Quest.
Just before the 2009 economic crash, Nissan also had an arrangement with Chrysler to obtain the next-generation full-sized Nissan Titan pickup off of the same production line as Dodge's Ram pickup. But that deal collapsed with the bankruptcy of Chrysler, forcing Nissan to start over on its plans for the Titan.
Mike Colias and Bloomberg contributed to this report