Nissan ready to concede on vans

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About a decade after launching a bold assault on the Detroit 3-controlled commercial van business in the U.S., Nissan is retreating.

Nissan plans to discontinue production of its NV cargo and passenger vans in the U.S., sources familiar with the plans told Automotive News. The automaker assembles the large vans at its Canton, Miss., plant. It builds NV200 small vans in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

“We don’t want to go more in the business of vans in the U.S.,” said a source familiar with the decision. “We will exit.”

Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman declined to provide details on the company’s long-term plans for the commercial van market.

“Nissan is considering a number of opportunities to streamline the product portfolio and drive efficiencies within our manufacturing operations,” Brockman said of Nissan’s overall business. “We will provide updates as available.”

An exit from the van business will have ramifications for many — but not all — of Nissan’s retailers. Only about a fourth of the brand’s more than 1,070 U.S. dealers made the necessary store investments to enter the commercial vehicle business in 2011, installing heavy-duty lifts capable of raising 30,000 pounds of loaded vans, extending business hours to accommodate contractor needs and hiring a sales staff dedicated to fleet issues.

Those who invested did so under the assumption that Nissan would support the products indefinitely, said Tyler Slade, operating partner at Tim Dahle Nissan Southtowne in suburban Salt Lake City.

“Dealers now have serious concerns about their investments in commercial vehicles,” Slade said.

Tim Dahle Nissan, one of the brand’s largest sellers of NV passenger vans, sold about 200 NV cargo and passenger vans last year. The business represented about 15 percent of the dealership’s annual sales.

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Saurabh Shukla

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