Driving Nissan e-NV200 All-Electric Small Commercial Van Page 2

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Evan Fulton and Jeannie Lam, of Nissan North America, with PGE's Charlie Allcock

Evan Fulton and Jeannie Lam, of Nissan North America, with PGE's Charlie Allcock

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As for PGE in Portland, they'll be using the e-NV200 for six weeks, much as they would a standard utility van—making sure that it can fit in all the runs that one of its larger diesel vehicles would do, and making sure it can fit the bill for various tools running off the vehicle's AC auxiliary power outlet.

“In many places, there is a no idling policy now, as more people are concerned about carbon emissions and fumes,” said Charlie Allcock, PGE's business development director.

Greenlight for the U.S. needs interest outside of 'green vehicle cities'

Fulton pointed to Portland, San Francisco, and Atlanta as cities that have had good adoption rates for electric cars, that might also be good for small commercial vehicles such as this.

What would a decision to bring the e-NV200 to the U.S. involve? According to Nissan light commercial vehicles product planner Evan Fulton, the e-NV as we tested it is still in overseas-market spec, as it's a limited fleet-test vehicle. To pass for sale here, it would probably also mean making some of the same structural changes—like adding an extra B-pillar reinforcement—that were required for the gasoline NV van.

That would all come at some undisclosed additional cost—which is likely why Nissan is hesitating to make sure there's some appeal

Incentives...hello?

Fulton also admitted that there's very little to help incentivize the cargo-van side of electric vehicles right now; any widespread move to do so in the U.S. would make Nissan's decision much easier. Such vehicles are heavily incentivized in Japan, for instance.

As it stands, the e-NV200 vans will stay with a series of different companies, changing hands every six weeks, for a year. And each of those were hand-selected through relationships with Nissan field representatives.

Is it worth that extra investment for North America? Fulton conceded that Nissan would need to anticipate moving tens of thousands e-NV200 vans over a few years to make it a worthwhile proposition, but hinted that it might take a fraction of that in early-adopter interest to jump in. “If we had, say, a thousand business owners waiting, we could move very quickly,” Fulton said.

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