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Demand for an electric cargo van that can only travel up to 50 mph isn’t strong enough to justify full production.
Ford made several important product announcements at a media event in Detroit this morning. Borrowing from its global portfolio, the Dearborn-based automaker is bringing an impressive array of commercial vehicles to the North American market, including a brand-new version of the Transit Connect.
Nissan is trying to stay at the forefront of the rapidly-progressing electric vehicle market by announcing a plug-in version of their compact van today at the Detroit Auto Show, the e-NV200.
“A potential game changing vehicle in its segment, the battery capacity will support a driving range similar to the Nissan LEAF, while payload and cargo space will offer the same level as the current NV200. The production version would be targeted mainly at businesses, but also at private users or families in major regions,” Nissan corporate vice president, Hideto Murakami said in a press release.
The concept takes cues from the Leaf. “The Nissan e-NV200 Concept is a standout design, sharing the iconic EV look established by the Nissan LEAF but in a modern, active, functional commercial vehicle form,” said Murakami.
The fact remains that this is just a concept, so exterior and interior features have a lot of room to grow, though it makes sense that the company would borrow heavily from their already existing EV formula. Some concepts are easier to take seriously than others, because as many of us know: concepts often remain on the auto show floor and the drawing board. That isn’t the case for the e-NV200, Nissan sayas they are already conducting tests and preparing it for the real world.
The initial trial took place last year during the summer with the Japan Post Service and the company is continued that work in London with FedEx starting last month.
While cars with a range close to the current Leaf’s capacity will be good for deliveries in cities where routes are short and fleets are big, the reality is that charging times and the cost per vehicle may be prohibitive for small businesses who run frequent deliveries, even with federal tax credits.
The gasoline NV200 is produced in Japan, Europe and China and available in 40 countries, but currently not sold in the U.S. Americans can look forward, however, to seeing the NV200 late next year in New York City as taxi cabs.
GALLERY: Nissan e-NV200
The Fiat and Chrysler product osmosis continues. Chrysler first revealed its plan for a Fiat collaborated small commercial van for the North American market back in November 2009. Finally, here it is. Tofas Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi, Fiat’s Turkish joint venture, announced that it will supply Ram with 190,000 units of the Fiat Doblo small panel van over the course of seven years.
Launched in Europe early 2010, the Doblo is already proving to be very popular amongst businesses. But in North America, expect the upcoming Ram van to compete against the segment leader Ford Transit Connect. In the past year, Transit Connect sold 20,496 units in the United states, a 31 percent increase.
In addition, as the Ram Sprinter was discontinued in 2009, expect Fiat to fill in the gap by providing a larger commercial van for the North American market.
There has been no word yet regarding pricing.
GALLERY: Fiat Doblo