Nissan will give industry giants Ford and Chevrolet a run for their money with the introduction of Nissan’s NV-Series, the boxy commercial van the Japanese automaker rolled out this week in Miami.

Fleet managers got their first peek at various media events showcasing the lineup, which consists of three models, the NV1500, the NV2500HD and the NV3500 HD. The two HD models are available in both “standard” and “high  roof” versions. Starting at $24,590, the finished products come after five years of examining “every aspect of the commercial vehicle business – including styling, powertrain, interiors, cost of operation and ownership, dealership sales and service operations and, most importantly, real-world customer needs,” according to Joe Castelli, vice president of Commercial Vehicles and Fleet, Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA).

The vans will be produced at Nissan’s Canton, Miss., assembly facility, and are scheduled to go on sale through a select network of Nissan  commercial vehicle dealers nationwide beginning in spring 2011.

One of the most striking differences between the old classics put out by Chevrolet and Ford is Nissan’s break from the traditional hood design and introduction of a pickup truck-like cab. Basically, the front half looks like a truck. The design allows for easier under-hood access for service and maintenance. Signature Nissan styling such as large headlights and a vertical grille add to the van’s rugged design.

“Buyers who shied away from vans [because they either did not like driving them or found serviceability an issue] may be brought back” by the “innovative” features of the NV design,” Mike Hobson, director of light commercial and fleet vehicles told Fleet Owner.

Accessibility seems to be a theme in the van’s design, with tall, wide doors offering easy access to a roomy cargo floor, as we’ve covered previously on The SmartVan. Nearly vertical sidewalls maximize cargo space and accommodate aftermarket storage systems without excessive modification. High Roof versions are high enough for a 6-foot, 3-inch person to stand up, according to Nissan.

“The NV is one of the most researched projects ever in the history of Nissan,” Castelli stated. “We touched the market at every point possible, with the findings reflected in every aspect of the final NV design.”

More about fleet management on The SmartVan.

ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.