• NV200 already available in 40 countries; has received international acclaim
  • Car-like maneuverability with lots of cargo space
  • On-sale in the U.S. in early 2013

While the NV200 compact van is already sold in more than 40 countries - and even received the 2010 International Van of the Year award-it is largely unknown in the U.S. But after announcing its U.S. launch at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan is hoping to jumpstart sales in a market segment they expect to double in size in the coming years.

Up against competitors such as the Ford Transit Connect (which has a multiple-year head start), it will likely be a steep road to climb to convince buyers and fleets that the NV200 is the better option. But with recent accolades, such as winning the "Taxi of Tomorrow" competition to build the next official New York City taxis, along with its already widespread international acclaim, the NV200 looks to be on solid ground.

The NV200 offers 123 cubic feet of cargo space, yet has a relatively small footprint. At about 186 inches long with a 115-inch wheelbase, the NV200 has the maneuverability of a much smaller vehicle. Even so, maximum cargo payload is estimated at 1,500 pounds, and the interior can fit standard 40x48 inch pallets. Other boons for commercial drivers include integrated mounting points that allow installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls and six floor mounted cargo hooks.

During the car's unveiling, Joe Castelli, Nissan's Vice President of Commercial Vehicles and Fleets, said the NV200 is the right size for a U.S. market that is increasingly thinking about downsizing. He also said the van will be "affordable" and have high fuel economy compared to other options but declined to provide more specifics, saying they will be available closer to the vehicle's launch in early 2013.

What it means to you: More options in the compact van segment could be a boon to businesses and consumers looking for functionality and fuel economy in the same package.

author photo

Nick Chambers is a "next generation" car enthusiast, recognized for his green automotive coverage in Gas 2.0, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, HybridCars.com and PluginCars.com. In addition, he's been syndicated in Matter Network, AP and Reuters.

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