Nissan Preparing 2014 Launch of e-NV200 Electric Van

The Nissan Leaf is soon to become the proud father of a bouncing baby compact van.

As Nissan’s next all-electric production vehicle, the e-NV200 compact van is scheduled for launch in 2014.

Unknown at this point are plans for the U.S.

“Nissan e-NV200 will be produced in Barcelona starting in 2014, using batteries from the Sunderland, UK plant,” said Corporate Communications Senior Manager Brian Brockman, “More details on specs, pricing, etc. will be announced closer to the launch of the vehicle. We are studying the market in the U.S., but do not have an announcement today on e-NV200 availability here.”

If you were hoping for Nissan to spin off something more consumer oriented, while no doubt Nissan has other plans for that yet to be divulged, indications are it’s taking a detour into the commercial market at the moment as this is an opportunity too good to pass up.

After the e-NV200, Nissan says it is seriously considering an all-electric box truck called the e-NT400, though this not as far along in development.

The e-NV200 has been in reports before as Nissan has run strategically located pilot programs for the zero-emission vehicle. The all-electric minivan does have potential to be configured as a people carrier, but will initially be positioned as a commercial vehicle.

“The e-NV200 will offer all the spaciousness, versatility and practicality of a traditional diesel or gas-powered compact van, but with zero CO2 or other pollutant emissions at the point of use;” said Hideto Murakami, corporate vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “What’s more, it will provide an outstanding driving experience that is unique to EVs. e-NV200 represents a bold and innovative addition to our commercial vehicle range, which is already one of the broadest of any manufacturer,”

It will be Nissan’s second EV since the launch of the Leaf in December 2010 and will share running gear with the Leaf. Aside from advantages mentioned, it offers a few more unique benefits for commercial applications.

For one, its operational costs are expected to be attractive to fleet buyers who weigh decisions as unemotional business propositions, and look to ways to improve their bottom line.

In European zero-emissions zones, the e-NV200 will be able to go where gas and diesel vehicles are unable to tread. Nissan notes its near-silent running would allow it to operate around the clock with no noise or emission nuisance.

And as Nissan prepares to launch the e-NV200, unknown is whether General Motors would re-label these for its purposes. In May, Chevrolet announced it was partnering with Nissan to sell its gas-powered version as the 2015 Chevrolet City Express.

Nissan e-NT400 electric truck.

Nissan e-NT400 electric truck.

Also unknown, but more likely to becomes true is that Nissan may well develop the same powertrain architecture into the propulsion source for its e-NT400 van.

Nissan is already hinting as much:

“Low running costs would make e-NT400 a breakthrough business proposition, while the high output, high capacity lithium-ion battery powering the 80kW electric motor gives smooth, vibration-free acceleration for a completely unprecedented driving experience,” said the company in a statement.

In NEDC mode, Nissan estimates the e-NT400′s cruising range at 87 miles (140 km). It would have integrated Quick Charge allowing 80 percent recharge in 60 minutes.

“As well as e-NV200, Nissan is developing a number of vehicles that adapt a diverse range of EV technologies,” said Hideto Murakami, Nissan corporate vice president responsible for the Global LCV Business Unit. “We want to explore the potential of EV technology in the light commercial market to diversify the value that Nissan’s commercial vehicles provide to businesses.”

The Leaf is already the top selling EV in the world, with over 75,000 produced. It’s built in three assembly plants – Japan, UK, and U.S.

Nissan did not announce pricing or details for the U.S. but the company’s massive Smyrna battery factory just completed this year has somewhere close to 20 times the production capacity that is at this point only being utilized for Leaf manufacture.

No doubt, Nissan will get more use from this facility just as soon as it feasibly can.