June 15, 2012
EVP Andy Palmer on the NV350 Caravan
Nissan launched the NV350 Caravan at its Yokohama headquarters on Friday as part of plans to double sales of light-commercial vehicles to 2 million by 2016. After the event I caught up with Executive Vice President Andy Palmer, a long-term supporter of Nissan’s LCV plans, to discuss his hopes for the new model. Check out the interview here:
Q1. What are your expectations for the NV350 Caravan with regard to the LCV business in Japan?
EVP Andy Palmer:
This is vital for LCV business in Japan. And not just in Japan but in markets as diverse as, for example, Mexico. It’s well known as the local commuter bus in Mexico. But if we come back to Japan, clearly this is part of our key strategy of dominating the LCV market in Japan.
The last model, the E25 model caravan, was launched in 2001. I came to Japan in 2002 as the program director for light-commercial vehicles and obviously heard an enormous number of voices about things that were good about the old caravan, and things that were not so good about the old caravan.
During that period, as program director, we started development of this vehicle – a long gestation – to make sure that we got everything, everything covered. There isn’t a single negative item within this car. I mean, you meet all of the regulatory requirements, the license plate requirements and yet you still have a huge amount of space.
Q2. What vehicle do you consider the main rival to the NV350 Caravan?
We shouldn’t shy away from the other one. It’s the Toyota HiAce. The Toyota HiAce has been a very good car. We tend to leap-frog each other because we have different cycles.
So, we have the benefit of having had the Toyota HiAce in front of us for a few years, and clearly we understand the merits of the car, and clearly this car has been designed to beat it in every single element of the car. There are no excuses in this car. Everything is better.
Q3. What is the midterm plan for overseas expansion?
You can already imagine this wherever you have a wide cab-over type vehicle, we have an interest. And those interests are things like Australasia, obviously, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, India. These are all markets that have potential for this kind of car.
The point is, we have a solution in every single market around the world. And that’s what’s going to make us the No. 1. LCV maker worldwide.
Ian Rowley, Deputy Editor
Nissan Global Media Center