Nissan has shown off its first production commercial van for North America due on sale late this year.

The first production models are the 2011 NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD which will be offered with four-litre V6 and 5.6-litre V8 petrol engines and standard (all models) or high roof (NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD) bodies. The high roof models offering stand-up walkthrough/work cargo area capability. Both engines will be matched to a standard five-speed automatic.

“The new kid on the block, as it turns out, is also a long-time player in the global commercial vehicle market. As the first non-domestic nameplate to design, manufacture and sell CVs in the United States, we bring a more than seven-decade tradition of durability, quality and reliability to our products,” said Nissan North America commercial vehicle head Joe Castelli. “It’s been too many years since any manufacturer in this segment has taken a ’clean sheet’ look at the needs of owners and operators in the CV segment. We’ve invested more than five years researching the comfort, style and smart functionality demands that will enable business owners to accomplish more throughout their day. We plan on coming out of the box with segment-busting vehicles, so customer input was essential.”

The development team met with large fleet owners and managers, small business owners, aftermarket suppliers and converters and rode along with owners of competitive vehicles.

“The NV is one of the most researched projects ever in the history of Nissan. We touched the market at every point possible, with the findings reflected in every aspect of the final NV design,” added Castelli.

When developing the new van line, a key goal was to combine pickup truck-like comfort, interior amenities and drivability with a cargo van’s capacity and security.

“Looking at the CV market in recent years, there’s been a migration of van users to light-duty pickups due to the lack of comfort, image and dependability of the current outdated van platforms,” said Castelli. “Yet many of these truck owners admit they need a van for weather protection, security and the convenience of a tall roof van to carry large items or equipment. With the Nissan NV, we’re giving them the best of both worlds.”

The body-on-frame NV has a conventional truck engine layout with the engine and transmission located ahead of the firewall/A-pillar to free up space under the instrument panel and between the seats and also provide easy access to the entire engine for routine service and maintenance.

“From the seats forward the NV looks, acts and feels like a pickup. You don’t have to take apart the interior to access the engine and you don’t have to worry about tucking your work boots into a cramped footwell,” said Castelli. “But, make no mistake, behind the seats the NV is pure, practical van.”

The cargo area offers a 120.7-inch cargo floor length and 70.3-inch maximum cargo floor width. Standard roof models have a maximum 55.4-inch cargo area height, among the tallest in class, and the high roof has up to 76.5 inches.

“Standard Roof NV models are designed to fit in most garages or go through most car washes and fast food drive-through lanes – along with offering easier reach to access roof racks,” said Castelli.

Roof rack mounting brackets are designed for various rack systems without piercing holes in the roof, which can lead to corrosion and water leaks. The available “upfitter pre-wiring” allows easy access into the electrical system.

The NV also offers a full-length cargo area inner panel to protect the outer walls from dents and dings from the inside, and there are multiple weld-nut attachment points for shelving and racks – again requiring no sheet metal drilling. In addition, the NV’s nearly vertical sidewalls maximize the usable cargo space, accommodating common aftermarket storage systems, as well as a bulkhead behind the driver.

Safety systems include dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors, three-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, optional supplemental front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and roof-mounted supplemental curtain air bags.

The NV will be manufactured in Canton, Mississippi, and sold through a network of Nissan commercial vehicle dealers nationwide.