A First For Nissan: Building A U.S. Vehicle For GM

The 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van is 4.5 feet shorter in length and 2.5 feet shorter in height compared to the full-size cargo van from Nissan. Credit: Nissan

The 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo Van is 4.5 feet shorter in length and 2.5 feet shorter in height compared to the full-size cargo van from Nissan. Credit: Nissan

Franklin-based Nissan North America has announced it will begin making its new compact cargo van for General Motors. The new NV200 will be sold as the Chevrolet City Express, available beginning in fall of 2014.

Ford has dominated this new segment of small work vans, which didn’t exist a few years ago. Nissan’s entry has just begun to sell in the U.S., and the automaker is attempting to keep its plant in Mexico busy, even if it’s making a vehicle for a competitor.

“The best way that a manufacturer can have that capacity work to their advantage is to have it full,” says Joe Castelli, Nissan vice president of commercial and fleet sales.

The van is a no-frills 4-cylinder made for fuel-efficiency and inexpensive running costs. It starts at roughly $20,000.

Castelli says he’d still prefer to sell the Nissan version over the GM model, but he acknowledges existing relationships with the American automaker.

“Maybe it’s a customer they’ve had in their fleet for 50 years that is looking for something like this,” he says.

U.S. GM vice president Ed Peper says the Nissan partnership “will strengthen our position with fleets and our commercial customers.” Currently GM has no compact cargo van.

Nissan has never partnered with GM in the U.S. before, but it has built cars for other automakers. The Mercury Villager mini-van was based on the Nissan Quest.

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