The exterior styling of the S-Cargo was inspired by the Citroën 2CVFourgonnettedelivery van, and interior styling borrowed a Citroën-style single-spoke steering wheel. The name was a double entendre, standing for "Small Cargo" and sounding like "escargot", the French word for snail, which in turn is a nickname for the Citroën 2CV.
The S-Cargo was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989, was originally marketed without Nissan branding and was available by reservation only. Over its two-year production run, 8,000 were produced (variously reported as 12,000).
Because of its origins at Pike Factory, (Nissan's special project group), the S-Cargo — along with the Nissan Figaro, Be-1 and Pao — are known as Nissan's "Pike cars."