Nissan’s NV200 won the Van of the Year award from What Van? in 2010 and after a slow start, it’s a van that has been increasing sales year-on-year as end users have grown to understand what it’s about and where its strengths lie, as the vehicle is a different shape and layout to those it’s competing with.
As Nissan itself says, it’s also benefitted from businesses downsizing but not wanting a light van – the NV meets them halfway and can take two Euro pallets.
But it’s more than the growing sales that have drawn us to the NV200 for this year’s Editor’s Choice award, it’s a pair of range developments that though niche in volume terms, show intelligence and a real value to operators in the market for such vehicles. These are the Fridge Van and e-NV200, very different products but two models that show the progress the NV200 is making, and will contribute useful profile-raising as much as volume.
Costing £5400 above a regular 1.5-litre dCi, the fridge van is a well-packaged and manufacturer- approved conversion available with a standard three-year warranty. It’s carried out by European specialist Gruau, and the slender cooling unit on the roof is the only external hint of the van’s purpose. The 215kg unit still leaves a payload of 524kg, and the fridge system can be plugged in, to keep at zero degrees overnight.
But longer-term, the more exciting development is the electric e-NV200. Nissan was first into the car market with its Leaf electric vehicle, and though sister brand Renault has already ventured into the light commercial EV zone with its Kangoo EV, our 2012 Van of the Year, the e-NV200 will help open up the sector and increase attention and focus on how electric vehicles can be deployed by businesses.
Boosting electric vehicles’ deployment in London was aided earlier this year by the announcement of vans under 75g/km becoming exempt from the £10 daily congestion charge, a 100% discount that was previously only offered to cars. In September, the City of London Corporation completed a week-long trial with a development e-NV200 to see how it could be used in the capital. Delivery firm Fed-ex has trialled the pre-production van, and Nissan recently announced a 28-vehicle trial with British Gas from November through to April 2014. The utilities giant will operate the vans as part of its home service fleet. Nissan is quoting a range of around 120 miles for its first electric van, which is just four less than the Leaf passenger car. The company is still being rather coy on how the production version will be sold, with the vehicle due on sale during 2014, and Nissan has confirmed that the e-NV200 will be eligible for the Government’s £8000 ultra-low emission vehicle discount.
Highly commended in this Editor’s Choice category is the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to the Volkswagen Amarok pick-up. Impressive for its smooth shift quality and its efficiency, the automatic transmission is fitted to the equally enjoyable 180hp 2.0 BiTDI diesel engine, yet is at least 16g/km more efficient than any of its less-powerful self-shifting rivals. An all-round great option, even if the £1730 increase over a six-speed manual isn’t easy to swallow.