Service and delivery fleets that don't need a full-size van have been quietly adopting the 2019 Nissan Rogue compact SUV, especially since Nissan offers a ship-through program allowing commercial fleet managers to add auxiliary equipment.
"There are small and large fleets out there that are using the Rogue for the cargo space while taking advantage of available upfitting," said Candice Groth, Merchants Fleet's director of operations and purchasing.
Since 2015, Nissan has been providing ship-through upfitting logistics services that have helped the company increase adoption of its trucks, vans, and SUVs.
Nissan has partnered with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions (WWS), which has established facilities in Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss., near Nissan assembly plants. In Canton, Nissan produces the Titan, Titan XD, NV cargo vans, Frontier, and Altima. In Smyrna, Nissan builds the Rogue, Altima, Pathfinder, Maxima, Leaf, and Infiniti QX60. Models made in the Nissan Mexico plants are shipped through WWS facilities in Smyrna.
For a $150 administrative fee, WWS installs equipment such as partitions behind the front seats, flat load flooring, graphics, telematics, ladder racks using pre-treaded and pre-welded roof rack mounts, or other equipment, such as small shelving units. Some of the designs allow for the back seats to be folded down so they remain in the vehicle while it is being used as a fleet vehicle with this additional equipment installed.
Once the fleet is done with the vehicle, the additional equipment can be removed, exposing a "brand new" backseat and increasing the overall resale price when the vehicle is taken to auction.
Once vehicles are complete, they are placed back into the Nissan logistics system to send the finished vehicle, which has a ship-through code, to a fleet-minded dealership for courtesy delivery to the fleet client. The process lengthens order-to-delivery by about four to six weeks, Groth said.
"One of the major advantages of going this route is fleets are getting uniform equipment installed on all of their vehicles, so there is consistency and vehicles look uniform, regardless if the vehicle is assigned on the west coast or east coast," she said.
Advanced Safety Technology
The 2019 Rogue added advanced driver assisting technology as standard throughout all trim levels such as Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection. On the SV trim level, Intelligent AroundView Monitor with Moving Object Detection, ProPilot Assist - Intelligent Cruise Control with Full Speed Range and Hold are available.
"Fleets no longer have to order the higher-end series just to get safety options," Groth said. "It is a noticeable trend the last few years across the industry. They're extending safety features to the base models as safety feature packages or having it as standard. In talking to clients and Nissan, safety in lower trim levels is exactly what fleet clients want."
Better Cargo Carrying vs. Sedans
Fleet drivers can lower the second row of seating in the Rogue to get 68.9 cubic feet of cargo volume and can better utilize capacity space by adding a load floor and safety partition through the ship-through process.
"Folding down the seats and having a safety partition installed, is good for certain kinds of cargo, including small items such as tool kits and small boxes," Groth said.
All-Wheel Drive Option
All-wheel drive makes the Rogue more appealing to fleets operating in a variety of environments, including the inclement weather in snowbelt states, Groth added.
Fleets with a need for front-wheel and all-wheel-drive vehicles can order from a single automaker, which reduces complexity during the procurement process and allows customers to take advantage of volume discounts, which helps reduce overall acquisition costs.
"The all-wheel drive makes it a versatile vehicle selection, plus an all-wheel-drive Rogue brings between $1,500 and $2,000 more than a front-wheel vehicle in the auction lanes," Groth said.
Styling That Benefits Remarketing
Exterior styling updates in recent model years have made the Rogue look more appealing, which increases its value in the wholesale channel.
"It will help with total cost of ownership," Groth said. "It looks sharp overall and is a great retention tool for fleets. Everyone loves crossovers. They are the hottest segment right now. Along with Safety Shield 360 being standard, the resale value should be pretty good."