The first of Nissan’s updated NV commercial van vehicles rolled off the assembly line in Mississippi earlier this month, bound for dealerships across the country. Although the company only shipped 12 vehicles in February, the news comes as Nissan announced its highest U.S. market share in history: 9.3 percent. The company hopes its revamped commercial van line will attract fleet owners in the U.S., helping Nissan cut into GMC’s and Ford’s overwhelming domination of the domestic van market, despite the company’s large commercial presence internationally.
We’ve covered Nissan’s entry into the U.S. commercial market previously on The SmartVan, including the company’s offer to provide free branding and decal on any purchased or leased model. As the van hits the market, however, the reviews are streaming in. John DiPietro, automotive editor at Edmunds.com, gives the NV largely high marks, especially for comfort, price and storage area — the NV include a high roof option in the two high-end models — but points out the lack of a diesel engine option.
By all accounts, Nissan is on solid footing to take advantage of a recovering commercial van market, the numbers indicating that managers and other fleet owners have decided to invest in their fleets after putting off expenses during the down economy. According to Alisa Priddle of The Detroit News, commercial van sales were cut to 168,000 in the U.S. during 2009, down from a steady plateau of 325,000 annually until 2007. Sales recovered to about 220,000 last year and are expected to rise this year.