By on June 8, 2020


No, not the minivan market. We’ve covered that at length. We’re talking van vans — the slow-moving ones that used to terrorize your author as a child. (Turns out that media-driven social panic was mostly nothing, but I digress…)

Word comes to us that, as automakers recede from the commercial van segment, Nissan might be prepared to do the same.

Per Automotive News, sources who claim knowledge of Nissan’s product plans say the aging NV family of commercial vans is due for the chopping block. Built in the U.S. and based on the Titan, the NV Cargo and Passenger vans appeared for the 2012 model year.

Positioned against the top-selling Ford Transit and challenged by alternatives from Mercedes-Benz and Ram (rebadged Fiats developed jointly with PSA Group, to be exact), the NV has a smaller sibling in the Mexican-built NV200. A variant of that model once carried a Chevy bowtie badge, but no more.

Nissan, which was on the ropes even before the coronavirus pandemic reared its head, plans to move forward with a reduced global lineup. Under its new four-year plan, both models and factories will be pared down, along with production volume. The only products to survive will be those that make sense in a given region.

The days of trying to compete in every segment, at the risk of business bloat and unnecessary overhead, are over. While Nissan did not confirm the potentially looming discontinuation, it did tell Autoblog it was “considering a number of opportunities to streamline the product portfolio” in order to realize efficiencies.

NV full-size van sales actually rose over the course of the model’s lifespan, hitting just above 20,000 units in the U.S. last year, though this volume pales in comparison to the Transit’s popularity. Ford sold nearly 154,000 of the versatile rigs in 2019, with General Motors’s positively ancient Chevrolet Express pulling in more than 77,000 customers. Ram’s Promaster saw more than 56,000 takers.

[Image: Nissan]

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16 Comments on “Contraction Coming in the Van Market?...”

  • avatar

    Pedantic, perhaps, but I’m going to argue that the full-size NV is not a van, nor has it ever been one. What it is, is a Panel Delivery, that is to say, an enclosed vehicle based on a pickup truck. This was a popular body style for American manufacturers until the early 60s advent of the cabover-style true van from VW and virtually every American manufacturer.

    Pretty much everyone abandoned the Panel Delivery when it became apparent that the van bodystyle was so much better suited to task than the Panel Delivery, sometime in the mid-60s. Only GM soldiered on until ’71, and that’s because their Panel Delivery was pretty much a Suburban with no side glass, so it was cheap to build.

    When Nissan decided to get into the F/S van market, it was surely significantly cheaper to create a Panel Delivery based on the Titan than to develop a F/S van from scratch. So they made a Panel Delivery and erroneously called it a van, which it clearly isn’t.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, if the engine isn’t intruding into the front occupants’ knees, then it isn’t a van :) that’s what always bothered me about the Nissan.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s literally a giant box on wheels, no different in execution than anything it competes with besides the ancient forward control vans you mention. I don’t get how it can’t be a van. Are you thinking NV200, which was the small van based on some economy car platform I can’t remember?

      These things are enormous boxes but unpopular. I’ve ridden in one of two of them as airport shuttles, compared to the countless E series, Transits or even Sprinters I’ve been in.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s literally a giant box on wheels *with a significantly protruding engine bay*. Which makes it a Panel Delivery, not a van.

        • 0 avatar

          Ok, pedantically that’s accurate, but does it detract from its functionality as a van? No. Though I hope the turning circle is better than our 05 Titan was. As far as full size trucks went, it didn’t turn very well at all.

          It IS ugly, that much is true. Nissan couldn’t hide the hack job going on here any worse. Reminds me of the old E series when they tacked on the last foot but left where the original side markers were in the original body.

        • 0 avatar

          Dude, it’s a van.

          Seriously. Lighten up.

          What is with the world that every discussion is taken over by some Star Trek level “what’s the combination to the safe?” nerd who demands loudly that his unique and peculiar way of looking at the world be validated, actively, by every human with which he comes into contact?

    • 0 avatar

      100% agree. Plus, it’s also ugly compared to the Transit.

    • 0 avatar

      The reason why Nissan went with this style of “van” was due to marketing focus groups. One of the biggest gripes of “standard” vans is the fact that the engine is a PITA to work on. Nissan “listened” to those in the market that buy vans and went with this design. Ironically, those same buyers have flocked to the Ford Transit.

      • 0 avatar

        No it wasn’t because focus groups complained that working on the engines was a PITA. Fact is you rarely have to remove the engine cover on a modern van. All the typical servicing can be done from under the hood. The only routine maintenance you need to remove the engine cover for is a spark plug change and that only happens after 100k now.

        I might buy that it was because the focus groups complained about engine cover intrusion or for the desire of 3 across seating. However the reason it exists is because the Titan Bombed and this was the cheapest way to try and move more product down an under utilized line.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes definitely a Panel Truck and not a Panel Van. Of course it was obvious why they went this way and that was to try and make the plant profitable since Titan sales never came close to expectations, nor planed capacity.

  • avatar

    I’m not so sure this will go away anytime soon as long as sales of the Titan and Frontier don’t explode. The reason this exists was to try and raise the utilization of the factory which was built with projections of much higher Titan volume. So as long as this meets safety regs and they want to sell any truck in the US I expect this will stick around. The development costs are sunk and as long as there is a margin and excess capacity it wouldn’t make sense to kill it.

  • avatar

    Where will New York City find another vehicle that meets their suspiciously specific requirements for a taxi?

  • avatar

    It’s a shame if it goes.

    If the size and layout (rwd, big thirsty tow ready engine, pickup sized footprint, in one of two heights) is the one you are looking for, it’s a much stouter and nicer vehicle than the space-efficieny-trumps-every-other-concern Euro transplants. It really is a truck (a an HD one at that) with a built in cap and cab pass-through.

    Nissan should take a hint from Ford and Mercedes ad offer the Titan XD’s AWD, if at all possible. Their van already has the segment’s stoutest, most rough-road/construction-site worthy van underpnnings. They really should exploit that advantage by having a rough road suitable driveline. Heck, with a proper 4WD system from the Titabn, I wouldn’t bet against seeing dirtbiking Vanlifers pick it over overpriced Tacos and fullsizers with increasingly overpriced slide-ins down Baha Way. The high roof one, at least looks to be a decent starting point for a minimalist Baha camper. And it’s got solid, well proven bones.

  • avatar

    About a decade ago GM vehicles were not half bad looking. Why are GM’s current trucks such eyesores?

    What a disgrace!

  • avatar

    Nissan realized year over year increases in sales of NV with best year 2019 total over 20K. It’s been an expensive effort and it’s generated success for the dealers that put the work in.
    Renault has expansive lineup of vans from small to large. Why not sell these in North America and stay in the commercial game?

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