There’s no question that Nissan‘s recently introduced full-size cargo van, the NV is a credible attempt at establishing a foothold in the commercial sector, however despite doing it’s homework extensively before launching the vehicle, sales have been rather sluggish.
According to Ward’s Auto, NV inventory supplies at the end of September, stood at 205 days, a stark contrast to just 48 for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and 116 for the GMC Savanna.
The two biggest selling vans in the marketplace, the Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express, stood at 73 and 69 days supply respectively. In it’s first nine months on the market the NV has sold just 3,035 copies in the US, by contrast, Ford shifted more than 69,000 E-Series vans in the same period.
So what’s the problem? Certainly not the product. According to Ward’s; Nissan spent a lot of time researching the wants and needs of existing van customers before developing the NV, addressing many of their concerns, such as a lack of both regular and high roof options, as well as ease of maintenance.
Rather, the problem seems to be distribution; Ford and GM have been long established players in the marketplace with proven fleet sales channels and even the Sprinter, the most recent challenger; has an established commercial vehicle distribution channel via the Freightliner brand, which is owned by Daimler AG.
Nissan, by contrast doesn’t currently have one for the NV. To make matters worse, many commercial fleet buyers still don’t see Nissan has a serious alternative to the likes of Ford, GM and Mercedes.
“The first thing that comes to mind [for van buyers] is not a Nissan,” says Chris Brady, president-Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting. “The Nissan brand is not considered to be a commercial brand.”
Nevertheless, Nissan plans on expanding the NV range next spring, introducing a passenger version and perhaps other features down the road. In addition, more commercial vans will be entering the market over the next few months, though the latest trend seems to be importing European offerings and localizing them, rather than developing new product specifically for North America, since it saves on R&D and tooling costs as well as enabling potentially greater profits.
Among the vans slated to make the grade include the Ford T-Series (Transit in Europe) and versions of the Fiat Doblo and possibly even the Ducato and IVECO Daily under the Dodge umbrella.
With more competition in the marketplace than ever, it will be interesting to see how the NV fares in the near future, though with Ford currently having no plans to drop the E-Series and the Sprinter proving quite costly, there’s definitely potential for a competitively priced, practical full-size van.
Perhaps the introduction of the smaller, global NV200, for which Nissan has already snagged a 10-year contract with the New York City Taxi and Limousine competition, will help establish the brand as a player in the commercial van market. One thing’s for certain, it certainly won’t hurt.
[Source: Ward’s Auto]