Nissan might be about to celebrate the end of one year selling its all-electric Leaf, but it isn’t just making passenger vehicles green: It’s electrifying its whole fleet.

That was the message Nissan sent out last week when it unveiled a range of all-electric commercial plug-in vehicles at the 2011 Tokyo Truck Show.

Featured on display was Nissan’s gasoline NV200 Vanette Taxi, the vehicle set to form the backbone of the New York Taxi fleet from 2013. And while Nissan hasn’t yet displayed an all-electric version of the NV200 light-duty van the NV200 Vanette is based on, it isn’t far away from doing so, according to Nissan Corporate Vice President Hideto Murakami.

“In addition to passenger EVs such as the Nissan leaf, Nissan will focus efforts on developing and disseminating commercial EVs with the aim of becoming the leader in the field of zero-emissions,” Mr. Hideto said in an official Nissan press release.  “We are currently making preparations to release a new EV based on the LCV NV200”.

The news comes weeks after Nissan entered into an agreement with rival Japanese automaker Mitsubishi to purchase to sell a rebadged Nissan version of a Mitsubishi i-MiEV-derived commercial van for the Japanese domestic market. 

But it doesn’t stop with small commercial vehicles. 

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Also on display at the event was an all-electric concept delivery truck, which Nissan says could be used to offer zero-emission delivery services in city environments. 

Called the e-NT400 Atlas Concept, the truck was built using components developed for the Nissan Leaf. As such, Nissan claims up to 62 miles of range using the Japanese JC08 mode . Given the Japanese test cycle’s notorious over-exaggeration of real-world range, expect the e-NT400 to obtain between 40 and 50 miles of real-world range.

In addition to the all-electric e-NT400, Nissan displayed two trucks which, while powered by diesel, made use of large battery packs to provide extra functionality when the vehicle was stationary.

The first. a refrigerated truck, will help keep refrigerated deliveries cool without requiring the truck’s engine to be running constantly. Using a large lithium-ion battery pack, a high-efficiency air-conditioning unit can keep the truck’s load area cool for many hours while the vehicle is not running. 

But perhaps the most interesting of all to electric car drivers is the Atlas F24 Power Supply Truck. 

Powered by a regular gasoline engine, the truck is equipped with 72 kilowatt-hours of battery packs -- again developed from the standard Nissan Leaf battery pack -- which can provide backup emergency power to run a 20-person office or an entire neighborhood for many hours. 

What does this mean for car drivers? Quite simply, the commercial vehicle market is much more lucrative -- and larger -- than any domestic car market. 

In chasing the larger, commercial vehicle market, advances in battery technology for larger, more powerful vehicles will no doubt trickle down into electric car technology. 

And that can only be a good thing. 


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