HOW TO BE THE NV OF OTHER DRIVERS Nissanâ€™s first home-grown van in a long while adds another dimension to the compact van market
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Face of the future?
e-NV200 electric van
Fleet managers give thumbs up NISSAN has received extremely positive feedback from the fleet industry on its new e-NV200 electric van when it was showcased in late 2012. Five leasing companies, six major fleet operators and three used-value guides visited Nissan’s Barcelona production facility and drove the new e-NV200, a diesel NV200 and the all-electric LEAF car. The group met the e-NV200 development team and were able to give their thoughts on all aspects of the vehicle, including how they envisage it fitting into a fleet strategy. Nissan also shared its electric vehicle (EV) vision, including product creation, development and future EV plans. All delegates reacted positively to the 100 per cent electric van’s driving and performance characteristics, with many keen to put the vehicle into immediate use. “We were blown away with the response and we already have leasing companies and fleet operators who
want to trial the vehicle, and some who want to order a fleet of vehicles for urban delivery use,” explained Matthew Dale, Nissan’s national LCV sales manager. “After driving the vehicle on the two-day trip they could immediately see the business benefit of running electric vans across specific parts of a fleet. Commercial vehicles are working tools and our guests recognised both the savings in fuel costs and reduced emissions offered by the e-NV200,” he added. From a residual value perspective the used guides could see a definite role to play for the e-NV200 and used prices should be strong, based on the vehicle’s practicality and whole-life costs, which will give it a second and third life in the used market. “Residual values are key to the success of any commercial vehicle so we were pleased to hear some very positive initial comments from the used vehicle experts,” said Dale.
Black cab that’s gone green NISSAN has a bold new vision for the future of the London black cab and its 300,000 daily users – the Nissan NV200 London Taxi. In line with the Mayor, Boris Johnson’s, air quality strategy for London, it will offer significantly reduced CO2 outputs compared to current taxi models. An all-electric e-NV200 concept is also set to undergo trials in the capital. Nissan has a respected place in London’s taxi history – its 2.7-litre TD27 diesel engine was chosen for the iconic LTI FX4 Fairway black cab and it’s successor, the TX1. The Nissan NV200 London Taxi comfortably seats five adults – three on a rear bench with two on rear-facing, fold-down seats. Meanwhile, the front passenger seat has been removed to create space for luggage. A stand-out feature is the taxi’s sliding passenger doors, which were developed for easy open and close and are also much safer for pedestrians,
cyclists and other vehicles because they do not swing out to create a potential obstruction. The diesel version of the Nissan NV200 London Taxi is expected to be competitively priced below the new TX4 – the London Taxi Company’s current model – and is available through a designated Nissan dealer. The frugal 1.5 dCi 89 HP EuroV, six-speed manual drivetrain achieves 53.3mpg on a combined cycle meaning almost 50 per cent fuel saving than the most efficient TX4, with its combined cycle figure of 35.3mpg. Fuel costs account for around ten per cent of taxi driver overheads. Over the course of a year, NV200 London Taxi drivers would spend around 50 per cent less – about £700 – on fuel than TX4 drivers. With a focus on improving air quality in the city, the NV200 London Taxi’s Euro V engine only emits up to 138g/km of CO2, compared with 209g/km from the greenest TX4 model.
All-electric van test
British Gas consider switch ON the opening day of the Commercial Vehicle Show, British Gas announced the conclusion of an intensive month-long Nissan eNV200 test programme ahead of its plan to make a substantial proportion of its 13,000 strong LCV fleet electric by 2015. The cold weather testing programme was conducted in and around Nissan’s Sunderland Plant and testing facility, aimed at getting feedback from various British Gas departments on the all-electric van driving experience. With an eye on the rising cost of fuel, the eNV200 promises to help reduce fleet running costs while also helping the environment by bringing CO2 down to zero at the point of use. The recent test in Sunderland saw the zero emission eNV200 run part laden to recreate the conditions of its working life. With temperatures dropping to -12 °C during testing, the UK weather didn’t disappoint and
neither did the eNV200. During the testing, British Gas engineers, members of the fleet team and part of the management board, plus eight members of GMB union successfully put the eNV200 to the test, demonstrating the pioneering van can be driven safely by staff across the company. The company first tested the zero emission eNV200 in 2012 when drivers praised the van for its driver comfort and generous payload. The Nissan eNV200 is a breakthrough zero emission compact van combining certain attributes of two award-winning models, the best-inclass EV power train from the Leaf and the class-leading cargo area within a compact body of the NV200 van. Bringing electric vehicle benefits to the business world, the eNV200 offers effective running costs, sustainability and new business opportunities for drivers, such as night time deliveries.
Latest research supports Nissan’s decision to build all-electric van SOME of the interesting facts published in the 2013 Nissan Van Report include how van drivers are better drivers when their van is clean, their favourite radio station is Radio 2, a packed lunch is their food of choice, some take a nap when they are stuck in a traffic jam and the majority of van drivers are over 45 years old. For fleet managers, the Van Report shows managing rising fuel prices, vehicle purchase and running costs, and protecting vans from future regulation are all key priorities. The survey also shattered some van driver stereotypes. How many motorists have seen vans with “clean me” etched into the dirt and grime? The research shows van cleanliness is not a laughing matter with 92 per cent of drivers saying they feel better when driving a clean vehicle and three out of four (72 per cent) believe it actually makes them a better driver.
Nearly half of drivers questioned (48 per cent) are driving 100 miles or less per day reinforcing the fact they could successfully use a Nissan eNV200 van without compromising their daily routines. Spending longer behind the wheel are the 26 per cent of drivers who said they drove more than 200 miles every day. More than one third of van drivers (39 per cent) are over 45, but only three per cent of respondents were aged 16 to 24, implying that companies will have to start recruiting young blood to replace an ageing workforce. Van drivers are a loyal bunch, with 45 per cent saying they had been with their employer for six years or more. For fleet managers, 51 per cent of respondents said driver training is the most popular measure to reduce fuel use, along with technological interventions such as speed limiters (37 per cent) and telematics (35 per cent). Costs are clearly a big factor for respondents adding vans to their
fleet, with whole-life costs (25 per cent) and front-end prices (18 per cent) major considerations. Contract hire monthly rates (12 per cent) and strong residuals (eight per cent) were also important but vehicle reliability was only listed by seven per cent of fleet managers. Like van drivers, fleet managers are a loyal bunch with more than half (56 per cent) saying they had been in their job more than 11 years. “Our research gives an insight into what modern-day van drivers and fleet managers are thinking and the challenges they face as part of a modern van fleet,” said Jon Pollock, Nissan’s corporate sales director. “With almost half of van drivers questioned driving less than 100 miles a day, the research further supports our decision to build an electric van and we are excited to be showcasing the new zero CO2 emission eNV200 in the UK for first time at the CV show, which also responds to the need for reduced fuel costs.”
● Wessex Garages Pennywell Road, Bristol, BS5 0TT, 0117 935 0000, www.wessex garages.co.uk
● Keith Brock, Managing Director of Wessex Garages
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Small wheelbase, but big payload Nissan has a fresh approach to its compact van market in the shape of its unorthodox NV200. Steve Walker reports.
ROM small beginnings, Nissan has grown its presence in the UK van market dramatically, but not without help. Sister company Renault provided the commercial vehicle technology, so all Nissan needed to do was slap its own badges on to the Renault van range, make a decent stab at the marketing and promotion side of things, and watch the sales figures balloon. It looked an ideal arrangement, but Nissan, it seems, developed itchy feet. Having established its brand in the thinking of UK van buyers, the Japanese marque went it alone. The NV200 is the first Nissan van in a long time that’s designed and built in-house, but is it up to the standards we’ve come to expect?
Sharing a platform with the Nissan Micra passenger car that debuted in 2003, the NV200 isn’t a big van, but there will still be those who have their doubts about its reliance on a 1.5-litre engine. The 1.5 dCi diesel is on the small side, but with 86bhp and 200Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, it’s a muscular little unit that compares well against the entry-level diesel engines offered in rival products. It does start to look a little outgunned against models that can match the NV200’s prodigious carrying capacity, but the Nissan should still have enough verve around town and a 98mph maximum suggests decent open road performance. The tall panel van shape of the NV200 gives rise to an upright seating position that will help drivers who are forever clambering in and out of their vehicle during the working day. The dash-mounted gear lever that controls the five-speed gearbox is ideally located and the steering column adjusts for rake, but not for reach. With the front wheels pushed right to the front of the vehicle, the NV200 gains a very tight 10.6m kerb to kerb turning circle, which is better than the majority of the compact van class and even out-manoeuvres some superminis. With good visibility, it promises to be an ideal partner for urban driving.
Design and build There are more visually arresting small vans on the market than the NV200, but once that scaled-down panel van design was settled upon, it was always destined to be a vehicle of
the plain and practical persuasion. What operators gain in a package that’s only 1,695mm wide and 4,400mm from nose to stubby tail, is a very big load bay. Most of the leading compact vans come in two different wheelbases, but the NV200 combines a single short wheelbase with a 750kg payload and a 4.2m3 load volume – that’s on a par with its long wheelbase rivals. The shape of the vehicle means the loadbay is relatively tall, but there’s enough floor area for two Euro pallets and a low loading lip of 542mm will help when lifting items inside. The NV200 comes with a pair of sliding side doors as standard along with the usual side-hinged doors at the rear. Also as standard, the driver is protected by a ladder frame behind the seat but higher-spec models get a solid steel bulkhead that will also do wonders for refinement. There are six tie-down points in the load bay floor and further versatility is available through the aptly named but optional Versatility Pack. This increases the maximum load length from 2,040mm to 2,800mm by means of a folding passenger seat and an opening mesh bulkhead.
Market and model There’s a choice of E and SE trim levels for NV200 buyers to get their heads around. Even the E model has a decent range of features, including remote central locking and a good trip computer. The manual wind-down windows are less appealing and many operators will want to upgrade the safety spec from the single driver’s airbag on the E model. With the SE, there’s electric windows and Nissan’s keyless entry-system
The trip computer can be set to display a gearshift indicator light that tells the driver when to change up to get the most from each tank of fuel.
which will be great for multi-drop drivers. If you want more comprehensive safety kit, however, you’ll need the optional Safety Pack with its ESP stability control, passenger airbag and twin side airbags.
Practicalities and costs Simple design and solid build are the order of the day inside the NV200 cab, but Nissan has put considerable effort into keeping the driving environment user-friendly. There are 13 storage areas, which might be unlucky for some, particularly if the item you’re searching for is in the 13th place you look. The storage drawer under the driver’s seat is handy and the glovebox has a secret compartment to house valuables. Build quality is generally very good with the materials apparently hard-wearing and the controls operating with a feeling of solidity. Economy should be an NV200 strong point thanks to its proven 1.5-litre dCi engine. The official combined cycle return for the van is 54.3mpg and emissions of 137g/km will have significant tax advantages.
Having relied on Renault to provide its commercial vehicle products for a long time, Nissan appears to have grasped the opportunity to go it alone with both hands. Rather than trotting out a formulaic compact van that matches rivals head-on, the Japanese firm obviously gave some thought to how it could come at the market from a different angle. The NV200 uses the shape and layout of a larger panel van to deliver a big carrying capacity in a small footprint. The execution looks good and it’s easy to see how open-minded operators could be persuaded to give the NV200 a go. Nissan’s first home-grown van in a long while isn’t the most exciting thing to look at but it adds another dimension to the compact van market. The miniature panel van approach should prove particularly popular with those undertaking multi-stop work in urban areas.
Verdict Having piggybacked on Renault’s commercial vehicle range for a few years, Nissan designed and built one of its own and the NV200 compact van shows real promise. The tall shape squeezes maximum capacity out of a small footprint and the 1.5-litre diesel engine delivers strong economy.
The NV200 was created to replace the Nissan Kubistar, a strong compact van which basically amounted to a first generation Renault Kangoo with its badges swapped. Renault’s second generation Kangoo never got the same dual identity treatment. By the time that model hit the streets, Nissan was well along the road to a little load-lugger of its own. Having been presented with a blank canvas to create a van in its own image, Nissan departed emphatically from the Kubistar and produced a vehicle that’s about as unorthodox as modern compact vans get. The NV200 looks like a miniaturised version of a full size panel van rather than a traditional compact van and boasts the desirable combination of a small footprint and a large payload. Can it deliver?
● Wessex Garages Pennywell Road, Bristol, BS5 0TT, 0117 935 0000, www.wessexgarages.co.uk
TAKING CARE OF
BUSINESS AT WESSEX GARAGES BRISTOL
NV200 1.5DCI SE
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BOOK A TEST DRIVE TODAY Wessex Garages Bristol Pennywell Road, Bristol BS5 0TT Tel: 0117 9547 517 www.wessexbusiness.com
Fuel economy figures for the Navara 2.5dCi TEKNA 4 DOOR mpg(L/100km). Urban-26.4(10.7), Extra Urban-39.8 (7.1), Combined - 33.6 (8.4), CO2 emissions 222g/km. *BUSINESS USERS ONLY. ALL PRICES EXCLUDE VAT. Prices valid subject to no change in manufacturer prices, residual values or interest rates. Models subject to availability. Prices correct at the time of going to print. Model shots shown are for illustration purposes only. RFL is £275.