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Franklin TN - Nissan Bets On New 12-Passenger Van

Published on: November 14, 2011 08:59 PM
By: San Antonio Express-News
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The new 2012 Nissan NV 3500 HD Passenger VanFranklin TN - Nissan plans to jump into yet another market segment now owned by the U.S.automakers with the introduction early next year of a 12-passenger van, an addition to the company’s new line of commercial vehicles.

The 2012 Nissan NV3500 HD Passenger Van – essentially a minibus – will be aimed at two consumer groups: large families and commercial limo/bus operators.

The vehicle most likely will be used primarily by companies operating passenger shuttle services, such as hotels and car-rental companies. It also will make a great small bus for tours, church and school groups, and so forth.

Ford and General Motors offer passenger vans of this size, and even Mercedes has one that’s sold here under the Sprinter name. But this is a first for Japanese automakers in the United States. Toyota and Nissan both sell full-size pickups in competition with Ford, GM and Chrysler (the Ram brand), but Toyota has no big vans.

Tennessee-based Nissan North America Inc. earlier this year introduced its NV line of cargo vans, all of which are made at the company’s manufacturing complex in Canton, Miss. That facility will build the passenger model, as well.

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The full-size (maxi) cargo vans come in three versions, the NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD, and offer a choice of a V-6 or V-8 engine and either a standard-height roof or a raised roof that is high enough for someone 6-foot-3 to stand up inside.

Based on a chassis similar to that of Nissan’s full-size Titan pickup, these vans represent an entirely new line of business for the automaker in the U.S.

market, putting Nissan into competition with similar cargo vans from Ford, Chevrolet and Sprinter.

The new Passenger Van comes on the largest of the three chassis used for the NV line, the 3500 HD. This four-row model has ‘‘the most flexible seating configurations in the full-size passenger van segment, along with one of the highest standard horsepower and torque ratings,’’ Nissan says.

‘‘Just as we did prior to shaking up the commercial van category with the highly innovative Nissan NV, we first did our homework in the full-size van segment by studying the real-world needs, wants and desires of both families and fleet operators,’’ said Joe Castelli, Nissan North America’s vice president for commercial and fleet vehicles.

‘‘As a result, we’re delivering a vehicle that offers everything owners are looking for – enhanced usability, driver and passenger comfort, flexible storage, dependability, durability and an affordable cost of ownership,’’ he said.

The passenger model will be available with either a 261-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 engine (with 281 foot-pounds of torque) or a 317-horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 (with 385 foot-pounds of torque). A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines.

As with the cargo vans, the passenger model will have a fully boxed ladder frame with independent-front-strut and solid-rear-axle suspension, with leaf springs in the rear. Also included are heavy-duty antilock disc brakes, engine-speed-sensitive power steering and a 28-gallon fuel tank for extended range.

There will be seat belts and headrests for all passengers along with side-curtain air bags for all four rows.

Nissan says there are 324 possible seating configurations, with large first-row seats ‘‘to optimize comfort.’’ The rear seats can be removed or repositioned as needed.

There also will be ‘‘mobile office’’ capabilities with a large center console up front that can hold a laptop computer and charger, hanging files and other office supplies. A 120-volt power outlet can be included.

Heating/air-conditioning vents will be over each row, and there also will be reading lights available for the back seats, along with cup/bottle holders. In addition, there will be a 120-volt power outlet in the third row and a cargo light behind the fourth row.

Technology options will include a navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, wiring for a telematics system, XM satellite radio and a rearview camera.

Three trim levels will be offered for the passenger vans: the NV3500 HD S, NV3500 HD SV and NV3500 HD SL (which comes only with the V-8 engine).

No prices have been announced yet for the passenger models but the 2012 NV cargo vans debuted in February beginning at $24,950 (plus $980 freight) for the NV1500. They range as high as $30,590 for the NV3500 with the high roof. That raised roof is available only on the NV2500 and 3500 models.

The 1500 cargo model comes only with the V-6 engine, while the 2500 model can be equipped with the V-6 or V-8. The 3500 cargo models come only with the V-8.

These engines are essentially the same ones Nissan puts in a variety of its other U.S. vehicles. The V-8 also is used in the Titan pickup and Armada full-size SUV, as well as in the Infiniti QX56 sport utility.

Vehicles such as the Xterra and Pathfinder SUVs and Frontier pickups are equipped with the same V-6 engine.

The NV has a 120-inch cargo floor length and 70.2-inch maximum interior width. Standard models can accommodate cargo up to 55.8 inches, while those with the high roof can hold items up to 76.9 inches high. That also allows the interior to be configured as a mobile workspace, in which most people would be able to stand up without touching the ceiling.

These vans are easy to drive and maneuver through city traffic, even though they’re 20 inches longer than the Ford E-series (formerly called Econoline) vans from Ford, the sales of which account for 55 percent of the large-van market. The Nissan vans have a shorter turning radius than the Ford models.

Also different is the engine layout in the Nissan van. It has an engine compartment that sticks out in front of the vehicle as it does in a traditional pickup, while in the Ford and GM commercial vans, the engine sits under a large cover between the driver and front-seat passenger, severely limiting legroom for the passenger. In the industry, this cover is called a ‘‘doghouse.’‘

Although Nissan is new to the commercial-vehicle market in this country, the automaker is no stranger to this business. It has been selling commercial vehicles in other markets for the past 75 years. It sold 700,000 of them, in several sizes and shapes, in 2010. That accounted for one in five of all Nissan vehicles sold worldwide.



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Read Comments (15)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 14, 2011 at 09:08 PM cholent Says:

This is going to make driving around the city and coney island a bundle of fun!
Here is an idea: buy one, pack it up and head out of town where you can actually buy a house with a large enough driveway to fit the guy, and gas prices that dwarf those of Monsey.

3

 Nov 14, 2011 at 09:55 PM SherryTheNoahide Says:

Actually, this is rather nice! It's not *too* audacious, and if you've got a really large family & can afford the gas... why not?? Some people spend TONS more on family vehicles, just because of the name brand being fancy, or because they put a fancy stereo system in it & etc. They spend double the money of this bad-boy, and it can only seat half the people! (lol) So I actually think this would be a good investment for a large family that could afford to buy it! (;-D

I like the color too- it's a pretty wine color! It's a shame they didn't mention the name of the color in the article!

4

 Nov 14, 2011 at 09:55 PM Misses Says:

Not even funny!

5

 Nov 14, 2011 at 10:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Your comment is terribly insensitive to the families who are grieving and the driver and people involved in a tragic accident. You should be ashamed of yourself.

6

 Nov 14, 2011 at 10:31 PM MidwesternGuy Says:

The van caused the deaths? Really?

7

 Nov 14, 2011 at 10:33 PM hmmmm Says:

Maybe the overloaded oddesys' can be replaced with this. But we must make sure wall mart has big enough parking spaces for this puppy.

8

 Nov 14, 2011 at 10:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Toyota makes a number of large vans and small buses that are sold in other markets. The ones I saw in Australia looked good and were very spacious. Don't know why the Japanese auto makers have stayed away from this vehicle type in North America. (Perhaps a political decision; witness how late they got into the full size pickup truck business).
The current 15 passenger US made vans are old designs. The most popular is the Ford van, but unfortunately it has proven dangerous to drive, with a tendency to go out of control, as seen recently, R"L.
I would welcome competition - it could only lead to better and more stable vehicles.

9

 Nov 14, 2011 at 10:43 PM greatsouthbay Says:

If NY State law is still what it was when I first became licensed, a driver with a regular license can carry 14 passengers. So this "new" van--really a return from the minivan to the original size van--is a few seats short.

In the late 70s/early 80s, an airline called Atlantic Express (?) ran a short-lived regional service based out of Republic Airport in Farmingdale. To avoid needing flight attendants, a requirement (at that time) on planes with 20+ passengers, AE commissioned a fleet of nineteen-passenger planes. These were essentially cigar cylinders with seats mounted on the inside, and a only a curtain separating the flight deck from the main cabin (thirty years ago, who needed security?). The approach into Farmingdale was very much like a 45-degree downslope on a water park slide, except that we were 1000 feet in the air, and you could see the runway right through the cockpit windshield. More exciting than any flight simulator you'll find in a museum.

10

 Nov 14, 2011 at 11:53 PM Anonymous Says:

This van will be an environmental atrocity and will only worsen the problem of global warming (aside from making traffic worse in the already congested areas of NYC). In the name of tikun olam, large yiddeshe families should be converting to bikes or mass transportation rather than buying these dirty, polluting behemoths.

11

 Nov 15, 2011 at 12:45 AM 12345 Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

This van will be an environmental atrocity and will only worsen the problem of global warming (aside from making traffic worse in the already congested areas of NYC). In the name of tikun olam, large yiddeshe families should be converting to bikes or mass transportation rather than buying these dirty, polluting behemoths.

yeah that makes sense. a 14 person chassidish family on a stretch bicycle.

12

 Nov 15, 2011 at 05:16 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

This van will be an environmental atrocity and will only worsen the problem of global warming (aside from making traffic worse in the already congested areas of NYC). In the name of tikun olam, large yiddeshe families should be converting to bikes or mass transportation rather than buying these dirty, polluting behemoths.

From your writing we all can see you a die hard liberal. Global warming is a gore myth like Greek mythology. Large families should use buses, really and how to carry home the groceries and children. There is Hashem in the world and you should get to know that by now.

13

 Nov 15, 2011 at 05:50 AM Mordechai_Ben_Yaakov Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Toyota makes a number of large vans and small buses that are sold in other markets. The ones I saw in Australia looked good and were very spacious. Don't know why the Japanese auto makers have stayed away from this vehicle type in North America. (Perhaps a political decision; witness how late they got into the full size pickup truck business).
The current 15 passenger US made vans are old designs. The most popular is the Ford van, but unfortunately it has proven dangerous to drive, with a tendency to go out of control, as seen recently, R"L.
I would welcome competition - it could only lead to better and more stable vehicles.

The US imposes a tariff on all imported trucks, which is why the Japanese brands were late to the pickup market. They had to build factories in the US to be able to sell the trucks at a competitive price.

About 15 years ago, only the final assembly had to be done on the US, so Toyota, Mazda, VW, etc. would send the trucks over with the bed and cab separated. Then, the port workers would connect the bed to the cab and voila, made in America. Now, the laws require over 50% of the manufacturing and assembly to be done in the US to avoid the import taxes.

14

 Nov 15, 2011 at 09:13 AM Balaboos Says:

What a foolish and insensitive comment to make. And for the record, there were only 2 losses, NOT 3.

15

 Nov 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM ShmuelG Says:

NV3500 with V-8 engine sounds great, I read up in MotorTrend, and the price, low to mid 30s is tempting, but the car is ugly! Even the photo galleries have difficult time making it attractive. Why couldn't they design it to look better?

16

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