Nissan shapes up to be serious van player
Special report by Ralph Morton
ASK any experienced fleet manager about running vans, and Nissan would probably end up in the ‘not serious’ category.
But Jon Pollock, Nissan’s recently appointed corporate sales director, says that he and his team – including experienced van man Matt Dale – are out to change that perception.
Nissan no longer wants to be one of the van market also-rans, but galloping right at the front.
“The focus on the fleet market has never been bigger,” says Jon.
“We’ve grown a lot and the Nissan LCV range has expanded. In addition we’ve put some resource behind the Nissan van range.
“We have a Business Centre programme and Matt’s appointment from Lombard Vehicle Management’s specialist van unit.
“But what does the customer really need in local market place?
“They need reassurance that they can be kept mobile and that we’re easy to do business with. So SMEs running a van or a van fleet can visit a Nissan dealer and we can solve any emergency transport solutions.”
Customers need reassurance that they can be kept mobile and that we’re easy to do business with
Which is fine in theory, but Jon acknowledges that Nissan has been inconsistent with such support and insufficient with the depth of its after market support, too.
“We were trying to apply car stocking methods to the van network. But for commercial vehicles that’s not good enough. Parts need to be there in stock so vans can be turned around immediately and start earning money again for their owners.”
New Nissan Business Centre programme to launch
To ensure a more consistent service to SME van fleet operators, Nissan is rolling out a new Business Centre programme from April.
“One of the temptations is to say to dealers ‘here’s a list of standards to meet’. But that list has to be meaningful for an SME customer, and the service has to be delivered consistently,” explains Jon about the new Nissan service initiative.
Jon says the programme is simple – “I’d rather have a short list of two or three things that can be covered consistently than an impressive looking list that can’t” – and will cover the following areas. Nissan dealers will:
- Guarantee mobility to van customers
- Guarantee out of hours servicing for van users
- Have the sales expertise to demonstrate product properly so that an SME gets a product that’s fit for purpose.
Nissan has recently grown its Business Centres to 72 and Jon says all are buying into this new van programme.
An expanding Nissan LCV range
On the one hand Nissan is growing its support for SMEs running van fleets, but Nissan is also growing the range of vans on offer, says Jon.
“We want to be seen as specialists in conversions, chillers and crew vans.”
These conversions will either be factory production models – such as the recent NV200 Fridge Van (you can read our full van review here) – while others will be conversions by specialists. But, says Jon, all will backed by Nissan’s warranty.
The NV200 is the key to this expanding range of conversions. Some are more offbeat, such as the NV200 taxi and Lunar NV200 motor caravan, but others are key.
The Nissan NV200 crew van is due to launch this spring – see news story Nissan to expand van range with the Nissan NV200 crew van option – while the Nissan NV200 Fridge Van is now on the market.
Showing at the forthcoming CV Show at the NEC (9-11 April) will be the eNV200, an all-electric version of the NV200 van. It will be the eNV200’s UK debut.
“We could sell thousands if it was available now. We have customers who want to place orders,” enthuses Jon. “For anybody doing fewer than 100 miles a day, or a business that covers a certain managed delivery area, then it fits. And the good news is that the NV200’s loadspace is not affected.”
Production is due to commence in Q1 2014, says Jon, although there’s no word on one of the key aspects yet: price.
It’s not only the Nissan NV200 that’s spawning plenty of conversions. Last year at the CV Show, Nissan launched its full NV400 chassis cab range, including tippers and crew vans. That range is expanding further with the addition of a new NV400 Luton van.
Further expansion of the Nissan LCV range includes the pick-up side, with the recent launch of the no-nonsense Nissan Navara Visia double cab.
It’s all part of an expanding Nissan LCV range that is making itself more relevant and more compelling to van users, says Jon.
When that range gets backed up by some real service support at Nissan Business Centres with the launch of the new Business Centre programme, then we’ll all have to take Nissan more seriously.
And not just take Jon’s word for it.
Read our Nissan van reviews
Click here: Nissan van reviews