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Old 11-23-2010, 12:47 AM   #1
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SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

My wife and I made the 2 hour 50 min. drive down CA99 to SMB West today for our first factory visit. Alan is in San Diego for the week, so Jeff gave us the tour and then we milled around through the vehicles for about an hour. Pictures just don't do these machines justice!

I asked Jeff what they will do after 2013 when E series vans are no longer available. He said Nissan approached Alan (Yes, THEY asked HIM) about converting a new Nissan van into 4x4 campers. We shall see!
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:27 AM   #2
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

Interesting. Let's hope we get something with at least the off-road capabilities of a Quigley (etc.) and with slightly more modern motors and technology. The Japanese and Europeans do make some fantastic small and mid-size vans.

I find the fact that we can't get smaller, efficient diesels here absolutely crazy. While this has been said before, the new Ford Transit coming from Yurup is available there with FWD, RWD and 4WD and fuel efficient turbo-diesels. Given the attitudes at Ford we'll probably be given a FWD, V8 gas engined van and be expected to actually buy it.
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:37 AM   #3
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

I fail to see any real benefit of the Nissan, other than the factory high-roof.

-It has a gas guzzling V8 (when compared to the Triton V8's fuel economy)
-It has a short cargo area
-The 2500 version has less payload than an E150.


And I don't understand all the doom and gloom for the next generation E-series. From what I have read, only the E150/250 will be replaced with the Unibody transit. The E350/450 will adopt the F-series chassis (probably with the same body as the Transit on top of that chassis).

Ford sells 200,000 E-series vans a year, has the vast majority of the market, and this years sales are up 40% compared to the same time last year. I'm pretty sure Ford isn't dumb enough to give that up by changing to an inferior product.
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:55 AM   #4
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb
The E350/450 will adopt the F-series chassis (probably with the same body as the Transit on top of that chassis).
Interesting!

Just give me a 6.2 V8 Ecoboost and I will be happy
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:21 AM   #5
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

" I'm pretty sure Ford isn't dumb enough to give that up by changing to an inferior product"



HA, HA, HA, HA,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Old 11-23-2010, 11:21 AM   #6
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

I also learned one other tidbit of information from Jeff, and that is how the three Sportsmobile divisions are related to each other. I asked Jeff if the Nissan thing doesn't work out, and the Transits don't prove to be a great platform, if he thought Alan might consider trying a 4x4 pickup truck platform like EarthRoamer does with the F550. Jeff affirmed that EarthRoamer has an excellent product, but that it would completely depend on whether the owner of the Texas division approved it or not. Apparently, the owner in Texas owns that division, but also owns the franchise rights. Though Alan owns the SMB West division, SMB is basically a franchise and the other two owners can only do what the owner in Texas will allow. Jeff indicated that Alan was the more cutting edge of the three and that it took a lot for Alan to convince the guy in Texas to let him begin doing 4x4 conversions. People kept bringing Quigley vehicles in for conversion to campers and Alan saw the opportunity to expand into that market. Obviously, this has been a great success.
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Old 11-23-2010, 11:58 AM   #7
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb
.....I don't understand all the doom and gloom for the next generation E-series. From what I have read, only the E150/250 will be replaced with the Unibody transit. The E350/450 will adopt the F-series chassis (probably with the same body as the Transit on top of that chassis)......I'm pretty sure Ford isn't dumb enough to give that up by changing to an inferior product.
We must not be reading the same things. I surely would like to read the info you have if you could point me toward your sources. From what I've read, Ford believes that Sprinter will overtake the market with their higher mileage vehicle. When I met with Alan Feld in September, he told me that fuel efficiency is the great concern for the future and as an example, he said that UPS had built all of its own trucks in the past-those infamous brown box trucks. Due to their inability to match the efficiency of the Sprinter, however, UPS has made the decision to abandon its own vehicle and begin using the longest body Sprinters. Already, I am seeing Fed-Ex long body Sprinters all over the place, and I think UPS doesn't want to loose market share to Fed-Ex based on fuel costs. Those of us who want a van with the ruggedness of a pickup are a small minority of the market. Like you, I wish that Ford would not abandon what seems to be a market dominating vehicle. To Ford, however, the handwriting is on the wall, and it is Sprinter who has written, "I get 22 mpg; what do you get?" Ford's response is, "I've been building a vehicle like you for decades in Europe, and I can successfully compete with you in the U.S." We love these rugged Ford vans, and they are superior to GMC and Chevy products. In these economically hard times, however, many more business people are looking for fuel efficiency in a big van for use on paved roads than there are well off individuals looking for a rock crawling Sportsmobile.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to argue with you. I agree that the E350 with F450 components makes an ideal platform for this amazing vehicle we all have or want to have for our own recreational use. Truthfully, I hope you are absolutely correct that the platform will not be completely abandoned. I do, however, see a very hard economic reality out there. Most people who buy big vans do so as a working business investment. A giant economic meteor has hit the Earth and big vans with poor fuel efficiency are going the way of the dinosaur. Birds are said to have descended from a branch of dinosaurs that had feather like growth and could fly (think Terradactyl and Archaeopteryx). Who knows, maybe this will lead to something that will really fly.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:15 PM   #8
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

Sprinter sales have been on the decline, even before Dodge stopped selling them. Sprinter's market loss has been Ford's gain. Ford was selling 10x E-series vs Sprinters, and now it's closing in on 15x.

Being body-on-frame isn't mutually exclusive with good fuel economy. Aerodynamics and Powertain play much larger roles.
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:06 PM   #9
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

Wow I would really like to hear about any sources for the E350+ on a truck chassis, I have not heard anything along those lines....and I know SMB would really like to get confirmation on that as it impacts their future.

Nissan has their measuring session coming up soon and I am pretty sure Alan mentioned sending someone out there for that.
When Haven here on Expo first posted about the Nissan NV2500 I got in contact with Nissan and told them about Sportsmobile West (I was interested in a Disabled Explorers project if they ever come to market)....I am glad there has been follow through on Nissans part.
They have an interesting marketing plan in that they are showing at the commercial venues vs SEMA and such....makes sense with the van market being more commercial.

Ford has never given any love towards Disabled Explorers (even after contacting up the ladder past the Econoline brand manager) so I have nothing against moving to another platform, especially if it gets me out from under the current loan I have on the WAVE.

At first the word was the NV series was based on the Titan which meant there was a strong possibility of a 4x4, now in marketing and press materials make it sound like they are farther away from the Titan platform so not sure if Nissan will offer 4x4 or is SMB West will have to do the conversion.
Some of the nice factory features are the hightops that Nissan uses for full standing walk around ease, factory nuts welded into sidewalls for mounting things, and since it has a truck nose there is less of a doghouse to limit driver/passenger mobility.

Oh and just for fun here is a quick rendering that Stefan Blast (a friend from the FJ Cruiser forums) did when I was first looking into the project
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:07 PM   #10
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Re: SMB-W Nissan Van 4x4 Camper Conversion Coming??

If SMB does explore alternative vehicle platforms, I'd much rather see a Toyota based vehicle than a Nissan based vehicle. I think Toyota has a definite edge in the heavier truck platforms.


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