Nissan e-NV200 electric van will enter production in 2013

Nissan-E-NV200-Doors-OpenEco-minded taxi drivers everywhere can rejoice, because Nissan will produce the e-NV200 electric van shown as a concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The e-NV200 will go on sale during Nissan’s 2013 Financial Year, which begins April 1, 2013. It will be built in Barcelona, Spain.

The e-NV200 is an electric version of Nissan’s NV200 compact minivan. The van, which has been a relative sales success in foreign markets, is best known to Americans as the New York City “Taxi of Tomorrow.”

According to Nissan, the e-NV200 will have a similar range and similar performance to the company’s Leaf electric hatchback. The Leaf has a range of 80 to 100 miles, does 0-60 mph in 10 seconds, and has a top speed of 92 mph. Nissan says the e-NV200 will also have “best in class running and maintenance costs.”

Nissan sees the e-NV200 as being the ideal vehicle for families and businesses that need to haul people and cargo, but want to do it in a clean way. Without a nationwide EV charging infrastructure, the e-NV200 will never be suitable for family road trips. However, it could be the perfect delivery vehicle for urban businesses. It’s small size makes it more maneuverable, and relatively short distances traveled in stop-and-go traffic would not overextend its batteries.

With the conventional NV200 already chosen as New York’s “Taxi of Tomorrow,” it is possible that a few of the electric vans will be converted into green cabs.

Either way, giving electric car buyers a new choice of body style can’t be a bad thing. Minivans are among the most uncool cars, but sometimes even cool people need to move stuff around.

Although Nissan is tooling up a plant in Tennessee to build the Leaf, all e-NV200s will be built in Barcelona. Nissan invested 100 million euros in the plant so it could build the vans for worldwide markets. Nissan did not explicitly say whether the e-NV200 would be sold in the United States, but with gasoline-powered NV200s heading to U.S. shores, the electric version seems like a pretty good bet.

Nissan shouldn’t be looking to exclude the U.S., since it plans to sell a lot of e-NV200s. Nissan wants to become the world’s largest light commercial vehicle manufacturer by 2016, so the more vans it sells, the better.