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Nissan e-NV200 is electric Leaf van

The Koreans starred, the Japanese mounted a comeback, and One Ford hit the headlines with an extended family of Focus-based newcomers that it is certain to make a big hit in Australia. But it was one car and the commitment of its company chief that made the most impact as America fought back on the opening day of the 2011 North American International Motor Show.

It takes a step beyond the NV200 that will be sold in the US as a small commercial with taxi prospects, and also is likely to go on sale, but probably not until 2014.

The petrol NV200 has previously been announced as New York's 'Cab of the Future' and the electric version has already undergone a trial program with Japan Post and is scheduled for a future one with FedEx in London.

Like the Leaf, the e-NV200 uses a 80kW/280Nm electric motor powered by a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the van floor. A single-speed transmission drives the front wheels, and -- again similarly to the Leaf -- Nissan claims it would probably get around 160km of range.

While the design strongly follows the NV200 in concentrating on payload space, the electric concept gains the Leaf's charge point hatch on the grille, and adds a bit of tech-esque bling in the form of blue-tinted headlights and taillights.

There's also a geek chic feel to the cabin concept, with a flat instrument display obviously modelled to mimic a tablet. With the current race to stuff ever more novel gadgets into cabins, the tablet display could conceivably survive into the production model. But it's hard to see the same luck for the two-tone blue alloy wheels on the concept.