While General Motors (NYSE:GM) certainly has the chops to handle its own engineering and production, that hasn’t stopped the company from looking to other manufacturers for a leg up every now and then.
The Chevy Aveo, for instance, was a Korean model, that GM slapped the Chevy bow tie on and sold stateside. Most recently, the company partnered with Japan’s Nissan to bring its NV200 cargo van stateside, under the Chevrolet moniker. The van, which will be known as the Chevrolet City Express in its American suit, features a four-cylinder engine that offers improved fuel mileage over the existing cargo offerings. It is intended to fall into the small cargo van space, going head to head with Ford’s (NYSE:F) Transit Connect.
While the Nissan version (which is built in Mexico) hit dealerships in April, the Chevy edition will be popping up in showrooms in late 2014 as a 2015 model. Increasingly, the smaller, more fuel efficient vans such as these have been inching up on the larger cargo van segment, which the Detroit automakers have long dominated the commercial van field. However, higher gas prices have pushed businesses and fleet customers to seek more efficient modes of transport, eschewing the traditional V8s.
While GM sees the van as a filler for a market segment, Nissan has much larger aspirations for the vehicle. Ultimately, it wants to produce a fully electric version of the van, which would greatly help cut small business’ bottom lines. The automaker is also working on an exclusive contract with New York City for a taxi version of the NV200.
As far as why GM chose to work with Nissan, ”We needed to get a quality product, we needed to get it fast,” Ed Peper, GM’s U.S. vice president of GM Fleet and Commercial Sales said. Although the company didn’t release pricing for its Chevy-badged van, the Nissan starts at a base price of $19,990.