General Motors is entering the next-generation small van competition with a new version of a commercial vehicle made by Nissan, both companies announced Tuesday.
The Chevrolet City Express, as it will be called, will be a revised Nissan NV200 and will come to market in fall, 2014. Nissan has been trying to aggressively find new uses for its small NV200 van, including adapting it as the “taxi of tomorrow,” the mainstay of New York’s cab fleet.
In creating a Chevrolet version, Nissan solves a problem for GM. With the success of Ford’s small Transit Connect, the pressure has been on GM to find a match. By partnering with Nissan, GM cuts years of development time and expense.
GM officials know exactly what they want the van to accomplish.
“It’s designed to go head-to-head against Transit Connect — and win,” Ed Peper, GM’s fleet sales chief tells USA TODAY. “Speed (to market) was a very important asset we had to have here.”
The van will be for sale to individual customers as well as fleet buyers, the businesses that buy their vans in bunches for flower deliverers, plumbers and myriad other enterprises.
The small van segment is new to GM. Ford basically created the segment in the U.S. with its Transit Connect, which sort of a combination car and truck. Now, Peper says GM’s vehicle will stand out from the Nissan with an entirely new front-end design that looks distinctively like a Chevrolet and a five-year, 100,000-miles powertrain warranty.
The van, to be built at a Nissan plant in Mexico, is yet another example of how Nissan partners with other automakers to try to get enough production volume at its plants to make vehicles successful.
“Working with partners to expand markets for our innovative products enhances Nissan’s growth and manufacturing efficiency by leveraging our capacity to meet growing demand in this space,” says Joe Castelli, a Nissan vice president, in a statement.
Now it yet to be seen whether GM will try to enter the large, new-generation van market. It is dominated by Mercedes-Benz’ large Sprinter, and both Ford and Chrysler have their own large vans planned based on European designs.