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Nissan van to spin off mini-MPV

Date: 12 November 2008   |   Author: Julian Rendell

Concept version of the NV200

Nissan will add a Renault Kangoo-style passenger van to its range next year, although there is some doubt about whether it will be imported to the UK.

The five-seater is part of a major expansion of Nissan's commercial vehicle range and is set to be unveiled next spring at either the RAI van show or Geneva motor show.

"A model like that is coming, but the conversations we've had so far suggest it might not be available in the UK," said a Nissan spokesman.

Such a decision will exclude Nissan from a segment that's expanded in recent years with several new entrants and which brings useful incremental volume for dealers.

The commercial version of the van, the NV200, will replace the Renault-based Kubistar and its design will be influenced by the Cabstar concept shown at the Hannover show.

Nissan is going-it-alone with its new range of vans, dropping re-badging programmes with alliance-partner Renault.

One of the reasons is the Nissan has made boosting van sales a major part of its next five-year strategy and that means going global and lifting sales in Japan and the US.

But Renault's vans are European-focused and don't fit Japanese construction and use regulations, said Andy Palmer, Nissan's global boss of LCV.

"Why aren't we sharing with the Kangoo? Because the Kangoo is too wide to sell in Japan and to be a serious LCV manufacturer we have to differentiate ourselves and not do cross-badging," said Palmer.

Palmer's team will concentrate development of European versions of two new van platforms in the UK at the company's Cranfield Technical Centre.

This will include basic engineering like crash performance and European chassis expectations.

Even though the new vans will have a global sales footprint, Palmer believed local engineering will ensure that there are no compromises for UK operators: "We will be close to our customers and what they tell us about their needs for these new vans will influence their design."

He has also set improved quality as one of the four major planks of Nissan's new van strategy.