Nissan remains a strong van player in many markets, with offerings such as the well-regarded NV200 and (Renault Master-based) NV400 in the UK and the NV350 in Japan, though it hasn’t offered a van product here since the early 1990s.
Nissan Australia managing director Richard Emery told us last week that it remained a market with limited appeal, despite about 25,000 vans being sold across the Australian market in 2015.
“I can’t see a justification for a van business for us, in terms of a volume opportunity, the investment required… in terms of the profitability in that segment, because it’s pretty competitive to price product. It would take a bit of work to convince me that’s a good idea,” he said.
Entering into the van space is challenging because van buyers have very different requirements to passenger, SUV and even ute customers. Things such as flexible servicing hours and loaner work vehicles are a few examples. It’s hard to help dealers gear up, especially if the vans will be a small percentage of company sales.
Nevertheless, a number of small-volume brands offer vans here, many imported from Europe and sold alongside the NV200 and NV400. These include the Ford Transit Custom and Heavy, Renault Trafic and Master, and Volkswagen Transporter and Crafter.
“There’s market potential for many cars that Nissan make around the world. But I suppose if I put my grumpy CEO hat on and say we’re only going to do something if it makes sense rather than just for another 1000 or 1500 cars a year, then I can’t see a justification,” Emery added.
“We already have 12 derivatives in Australia. I can see an opportunity for Nissan to build volume aspirations over the next 5-6 years, [but] we don't need extra models in the marketplace, we need to do a better job with the ones we’ve got.”