Yes, a Detroit preview already. Nissan North America has announced its NV2500 concept which makes its public debut early in January at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

One of the largest concept vehicles ever created by the automaker, the NV2500 previews the company’s entry into the North American commercial vehicle (CV) market in 2010 and is, it said, “designed to highlight multi-purpose utility solutions in the real world”.

Nissan had previously designed and built the large Titan truck (an F-150/Silverado competitor) in the US but that deal will end in a few years to be replaced by a new truck line built for Nissan by Chrysler.

The Japanese automaker is reported to be spending US$118m at its Canton, Mississippi, plant to build the NV2500.

Nissan has big plans globally for commercial vehicles.

GT2012, its five year business plan, was announced earlier this year and outlines the company’s strategy for future growth and identifies the LCV business as a key pillar of the company’s performance.

Nissan set two commitments for the LCV business to be achieved by the end of 2012 globally: a doubling of revenue compared with fiscal year 2007 and top level customer satisfaction.

As well as 13 all-new models, the increase in revenue was expected to come from geographic expansion of the LCV business. In September, Nissan started selling its commercial vehicle range in Russia, a market which has a huge potential. Sales started with two vehicles, Cabstar and the NP300 pick up, with a view to offer a range of six products in 2012. Nissan has already established a network of eight dealers, and plans to expand it further.

Outside of Europe, geographical expansion will be implemented with the introduction of commercial vehicles in North America and India (in 2010-2011).

At the Hannover CV show last September, Nissan announced plans that included an all-new small van next year and a mass-market hybrid-powered light commercial vehicle to launch by the end of 2012.

The small van, for global sales from 2009, was inspired by the NV200 concept first presented at the Tokyo motor show in 2007. It will hit the road in Japan next spring and then in Europe, as well as in several other markets, in  the second half of 2009.

Just last week, Nissan said its Cranfield-based research and development facility here in the UK, Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE), was to play a key role in the company’s global van programme.

NTCE is currently contributing to the development of the NV200 and will subsequently play a central role in the development of a new van series, with particular focus on the European market.

“We have already achieved accelerated growth of the Nissan LCV business with sales rising from 312,000 units in 2004 to 520,000 in 2007, but we have a long way to go before we reach our full potential,” said Andy Palmer, corporate vice president, Nissan Motor Company, LCV business unit.

“We aim to expand our business much further with smart new products and services that meet the needs of our customers, both in Europe and around the world.”