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GM Adds Nissan-Built Cargo Van to Take On Ford Transit Connect

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. is introducing a new cargo van, built by Nissan Motor Co. under a supply alliance formed last year, to compete with Ford Motor Co.’s Transit Connect in the U.S.

“There is so much opportunity in this particular segment,” Ed Peper, U.S. vice president of fleet and commercial sales, said in an interview before today’s announcement by Detroit-based GM. The 2015 Chevrolet City Express will go on sale later this year, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, is seeking to expand its commercial-vehicle business with the new van as well as redesigned heavy-duty pickups and new midsize trucks. The City Express, being revealed at the Chicago auto show today, is based on Nissan’s NV200. The companies announced the project in May.

“Our goal is to grow commercial share,” Peper said. The potential market for the Chevrolet van includes “everything from computer repair, catering, floral, radio/TV folks, graphic designs,” particularly small businesses, he said.

GM also said today that Chevrolet is expanding its optional bi-fuel engines, which can run on compressed natural gas or gasoline, to all cab styles of the 2015 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD pickups.

The City Express will offer 122.7 cubic feet (3.5 cubic meters) of cargo space and an estimated payload capacity of 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms), GM said.

Nissan, which introduced the NV200 in the U.S. last year, reported full-year sales of 4,619 of the vans. Ford sold 39,703 Transit Connects in 2013, up 13 percent from a year earlier.

The cargo-van supply arrangement is a first in North America for GM and Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan, which builds the NV200 in Mexico. While GM has worked with Nissan alliance partner Renault SA in Europe, and the U.S. and Japanese companies make a van in Europe, they’ve not previously had a similar project for the U.S. and Canada, Nissan said in May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Higgins in Detroit at thiggins21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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