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Nissan Unveils Concept Version of its All-Electric Commercial Van

issan today unveiled the all-electric e-NV200 Concept van at the 2012 North American Auto Show in Detroit. According to the company, the NV200 “previews a near-future production version of a full electric vehicle designed to provide businesses or families with flexible, roomy interior space, while achieving a dramatic CO2 footprint reduction.” The vehicle is expected to go on sale in 2014, although Nissan has not decided which global markets will offer the e-NV200.

Nissan’s goal is to offer four pure electric cars in its portfolio in the next few years. An EV version of the NV200—or something like it—is the company’s commercial application in the set of four. I spoke on the phone with Mark Perry, Nissan EV guy in North America—from the floor of the Detroit show shortly after the introduction. He told me, “If we enter a market, we want to demonstrate that we are the leader for electric vehicles. That means offering more segments and more vehicle selection.”

Expanding Offerings, Even If Each Model Is Not Thrilling

In my conversations with Mark in the past few months, he has repeatedly emphasized that Nissan wants its EVs to be “mass market” vehicles. Yet, the five-seat e-NV200—as almost exclusively a commercial vehicle designed for deliveries or for use as a taxi—is unlikely to come anywhere close to the LEAF’s production numbers. (Mark told me that LEAF sales in the US in 2012 will double compared to the nearly 10,000 sales in 2011.) The e-NV200 will not go on sale until about 2014—about the same time that Nissan introduces its Infiniti all-electric sedan. Which will come first? That’s undetermined. “We haven’t locked down the cadence,” said Mark.
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