GAZ, the Russian automaker that bought UK van maker LDV two years ago, will rebrand the company Maxus "in the near future", according to marketing director Guy Jones.

The company is rolling out a new black and orange corporate identity, already used at new European dealers, and destined for the entire network from 2009.

"The UK dealer council is supporting the change to Maxus," Jones said. LDV currently has 72 sales dealers and 123 aftersales outlets here in the UK.

The Maxus name is currently used for LDV's range of vans and cab-chassis light trucks so the rebranding would be "similar to Mini", Jones added, so the brand and model range are the same.

Clearer model-specific branding is likely to be adopted in future, as LDV wants to add more models, particularly a smaller van to plug the gap once filled by the Cub, a rebadged Spanish-built Nissan Vanette that was sold from 1996 to 2002.

A suitable vehicle could be produced in partnership with another van maker or could be acquired.

"We have several options on the table," Jones said.

Earlier this year GAZ bought the outgoing Dodge Stratus production line from Chrysler, shipped it to Russia and now builds an updated version called the GAZ Siber. It could do a similar deal with a European van maker. Alternatively it could source from an existing plant or even acquire a plant.

GAZ has recently acquired a 50% stake in Italian diesel engine maker VM Motori. The other half is owned by General Motors and one option would be to partner with GM on light vans.

GM produces the Opel Corsa-based Combo van in Zaragoza, Spain, and this would be ideal for LDV. Jones said the company could sell "100,000 at least" of such car-derived vans.

The current Maxus van range will be replaced around 2012 by a new vehicle currently under development in Russia and known internally as 'Gazel 3'.

This would replace both the Maxus and the older, larger GAZ-branded Russia market vans, and it will be sold with both rear-and front-drive. RWD models are due first, with the entire range being renewed over two years.