Nissan is in big trouble. When a manufacturer gets in dire straits one thing it will do is start cutting up its portfolio. Every line gets equated and the ones showing less profit can be cut. Nissan is ready to ax these commercial vehicles. Surprisingly, it plans to get out of the van business. If you’ve been to Manhattan in the last few years you’ve seen the ubiquitous yellow Nissan NV200 vans everywhere.
But Nissan also sells a larger van. Called the NV cargo van it is a boxy body-on-frame van like we typically have seen for decades in the US. Both it and the unibody NV200 will not be produced. The larger vans have been assembled in Canton, Mississippi; while the NV200 is built in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Nissan is ready to winnow down its commercial offerings
“We don’t want to go more in the business of vans in the US,” a source told Automotive News. “We will exit.” Nissan will only say it is looking to “streamline the product portfolio.” So the US will have fewer vans, so what? For the consumer, it is a nothing burger. But for dealers, there’s a big issue.
Back in 2011 to sell vans dealerships had to invest in the Nissan cargo van project. Of the over 1,000 Nissan dealers only about 250 signed up. Partly it was due to the investment Nissan required. Dealers had to, among other things, install 30,000 lb heavy-duty lifts, extend business hours to work around contractor schedules, and hire a dedicated fleet staff.
Obviously, those that invested expected Nissan would be in the commercial business for more than 10-11 years. What is mucking things up further is that many businesses purchase both vans and pickups. They want them both to be manufactured by the same company for various reasons. Nissan’s pickup truck business, as has been brought up many times over many years, is both limited and old.
In its commercial line, Nissan trucks were not supporting its vans
So many potential customers went to Ford or Chevy because they both offer more variety and newer models. So Nissan’s pickup trucks were not supporting its newer vans. And even though they were newer the cargo van, in particular, has seen its share of complaints.
Leading that list is the long nose that confounds both parking and packaging. The sales figures bear out that something is missing. Nissan averages out about 35,000 vans in any given year. It;’s consistent, but not especially big. However, some of Nissan’s larger cargo van dealerships see yearly sales make up roughly 10-15 % of their business. So for some dealers, it will be a big hit.
Resizing means Nissan is trying to dovetail its products with those of Renault
But with Nissan resizing its portfolio of products it is trying to align itself better with Renault and Mitsubishi. All three are financially aligned and all three are having problems. One solution is that certain brands will only make products that dovetail with the other alliance partners.
Renault has a line of cargo vans that Nissan could badge as its own. With the new midsize and full-size pickups expected in the next couple of years, these vans could enhance pickup sales. So while we may not be seeing any vans manufactured, don’t be surprised if new rebadged Renault vans start popping up on dealer lots in the next few years.