Nissan wants e-NV200 to steal sales from diesel rivals

Nissan wants fleet managers in Europe to turn away from diesel-powered delivery vans in favor of its new battery-powered e-NV200.

Two key reasons to make the switch are better handling and lower running costs, said Thomas Ebeling, Nissan general manager for product strategy and planning. Compared with fuel-powered versions of the van, the e-NV200 has faster, smoother acceleration because of its 80-kilowatt electric motor.

In addition, it offers better handling because the battery tucked in the subframe under the middle of the car gives it a lower center of gravity, which improves stability and reduces body roll. The e-NV200 also has a wider stance and costs 40 percent less to operate than its diesel sibling, Ebeling said, adding that most of the savings come from the not having an engine to maintain.

“I am convinced we have a better product than what is on the market today,” Ebeling said. “It is not for everyone, but it is a perfect solution for some people.”

Nissan estimates that there are about 200,000 fleet vans operating in Europe that never travel more than 120km a day. Ebeling said those are potential customers for the e-EV200. He said that a fleet operator looking to reduce CO2 emissions could replace his entire fleet with more efficient diesels or switch a portion of the fleet to EVs to accomplish the same goal.

Another factor that will effect the overall market is that automakers in Europe need to reduce the average CO2 emissions from their vans to 149 grams per kilometer by 2020 from 173g/km now.

Forecasters are not bullish on the e-NV200. Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, Spain, which is the van’s sole production site, is expected to make 1,200 units of the EV van next year for global distribution. Volume is expected to rising to 2,742 in 2020, according to IHS Automotive.

While Nissan will offer the e-NV200 in Japan, IHS expects most of the van’s initial volume to be sold in Europe.

“The demand will be primarily driven by the changing legislation within the cities with upcoming low-emission zones and restrictions on fuel choice,” Pavan Potluri, a senior powertrain analyst at IHS, said in an e-mail reply to questions. “The biggest proportion of demand will be from taxis and commercial delivery fleets. They are already starting to appear in significant numbers in cities such as Amsterdam, with trials set to begin in other European and Japanese cities as well.”

In Germany, the entry e-NV200 with tax and purchase of the battery costs €29,819. By comparison, the after-tax price of the entry NV200 diesel is about €18,390 and the entry petrol variant is €16,480 with tax included.

Customers also have the option of leasing the battery for as little as €87 a month with tax. That drops the German starting price of the e-NV200 to €23,919.

Nissan says that most private customers will pick the Evalia variant, which caters to the needs of minivan buyers.

The German starting price for the battery-powered Evalia, with tax and purchase of the battery, is €36,766, compared with €21,490 for the diesel Evalia and €19,700 for the petrol variant.