>> Monday, December 15, 2008
Nissan is headed for the North American commercial-truck market.
Nissan isn’t coming to the North American International Auto Show this year, but that didn’t stop them from gathering a bunch of journalists in Detroit to show off a new concept. Although buyers of the Titan and Armada are growing scarcer by the day, there’s one sector of the truck market that isn’t disappearing quite as quickly: really big trucks.
The commercial trucking industry is one in which Nissan is a major player on pretty much every continent except North America—and Antarctica, where penguin unions make doing any sort of business nearly impossible. Starting in 2010, Nissan will enter the commercial market in the U.S. and Canada with a mix of existing products from outside North America and three all-new vehicles that will be introduced over a span of three years.
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The NV2500 seen here will not be one of them. A concept built on the Nissan Titan’s F-alpha platform, the NV2500 serves more as an announcement that Nissan is coming to the U.S. than any real indication of what those vehicles will look like when they get here. Even the platform will change. The next-generation Nissan Titan will be built by Dodge on the Ram assembly line—much like the Volkswagen Routan is really just a rebadged Chrysler Town & Country—and the probable scenario is that at least one of the new commercial-grade Nissans will share those bones. But Nissan officials stated clearly that nothing like the NV2500 would be built on the existing F-alpha structure.
The three new vehicles are said to cover classes 3–5 in the commercial market. The Dodge Sprinter, Ford E-series, and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savanna were mentioned, which means smart money is on one of the vehicles being a full-size van and accompanying chassis-cab. Class 3 is covered by heavy-duty pickups such as the Sierra/Silverado 3500 and Ford F-350, so it is likely that the Class 3 offering will be a rebadged version of the new heavy-duty Ram. Nissan says it has partnered with Cummins to provide diesel engines for its upcoming trucks and ZF for transmissions.
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As for the third vehicle, this press conference was the first time in at least a few years during which we’ve heard the Chevrolet Astro mentioned. Nissan’s NV200 concept from the 2007 Tokyo show was also present, suggesting that the company is considering the mini-utility van market currently poised to explode to one whole entry with the Ford Transit Connect. Although such a small van falls well short of the load requirements for the commercial classes Nissan is talking about, the company does have nearly a full globe’s worth of products—including buses and flatbed cabovers—it could import to fill those gaps.