Detroit 2012: Nissan Previews EV Delivery Van With e-NV200 Concept

The e-NV200 concept combines two of Nissan’s newest vehicles -- the Leaf electric car and NV series of commercial vans. The electric van is said to preview a “near-future” production model that would be sold primarily as a cargo van to businesses, and also as a small people carrier to families.

A Nissan executive admitted to us that this electric van is destined for series production within the next few years. It will debut some time after the 2013 Pathfinder and Altima, probably by 2014 at the earliest. Building an electric LCV (light commercial vehicle) would help Nissan deliver on its promised of "Innovation for all" -- the company could offer new types of vehicles in as many vehicle segments as possible. Launching an electric van also will help keep Nissan's electric-car technology fresh in consumers' minds even several years after the Leaf hatchback launched.

The powertrain is lifted almost directly from the Nissan Leaf, meaning an 80-kW electric motor drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. Power is stored in a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery, and Nissan says driving range will be similar to that of the Leaf, which is rated by the EPA at 73 miles per charge. At Nissan's stand here at the Detroit auto show, the Leaf hatchback is relegated to a small plinth, while the e-NV200 is in the spotlight on a turntable.

The e-NV200 wears the same pointed, aerodynamic nose as a regular Nissan Leaf, including the front-mounted charging port. The show car wears the same electric-blue paint job seen on the Leaf, plus unique turbine-look 16-inch wheels, clear taillights, and prominent “Zero Emissions” decals. The interior is shown here with a foldable row of three seats, although we imagine there also will be stripped-out versions intended purely for hauling cargo. The small van is 180.1 inches long and 69.2 inches wide, or about the same size as the Mazda 5 minivan.

The gasoline-powered Nissan NV200 will be used as taxis in New York City starting from 2013, and Nissan already is testing the electric version in Japan and London. Nissan plans to pitch a production version as a cheaper (in terms of energy consumption) compact delivery vehicle for crowded cities. If the model takes off, expect to see it delivering pizzas, flowers, or mail in a large city near you.

For more on the Nissan e-NV200 concept check out our First Look here. For more on the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Detroit Show homepage.

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