Nissan is about to transform its Canton, Mississippi, assembly plant from light trucks to commercial trucks. The Nissan Quest minivan, Armada and Infiniti QX56 SUVs will be phased out in 2010 when the Japanese automaker begins building at Canton a 2011 model year truck based on the Cummins-powered NV2500 concept. Nissan also is looking into the small delivery-truck business that Ford hopes to transform with its European Transit Connect scheduled for sale in North America this summer. The Nissan Titan light-duty pickup truck, introduced for the 2004 model year, will be replaced with a 2011 model built on the Dodge Ram chassis in a Mexican Chrysler plant, presuming the American automaker is still in business.

Except for its high-concept interior features, the NV2500 looks virtually production-ready. Nissan has contracted with longtime heavy-duty Dodge Ram supplier Cummins for diesels and with ZF for transmissions. Nissan, offering no peek under the hood, describes the NV2500's engine only as a V-8 and the ZF automatic as a five-speed. Nissan expects to build diesel and V-8 gas-engine variations, and perhaps a gas V-6 version, as well.

Bruce Campbell and his Nissan Design America crew in La Jolla, California, drew the NV2500 concept liveried for the non-profit Habitat for Humanity. Concept-truck bling includes a solar glass-panel roof that powers the interior lights, equipment, and accessories, including a ceiling fan. It has storage compartments integrated into the doors, vertical 60/40 rear "barn doors" with more storage compartments, and a power rear step.

The interior is split into three zones. The driver/passenger zone has a wide instrument panel with customizable navigation/audio/climate display, an overhead storage console with visor shelves, and center shelves. A lighted storage closet behind the driver's seat can accommodate hardhats, flashlights, and work boots, and there's a mudroom-like grated drainage floor. The wide front-passenger seat swings on a sliding arm to face backward toward a worktable.

The second zone includes an oversized computer monitor with a laser-projected "easy clean" keyboard. The third zone is a conference center and cargo bay and holds a fold-down workshop table with a recycled bamboo surface. It can flip 180-degrees to serve as a standing-height, exterior table, illuminated by awning lights. There are 110/220-watt power outlets and areas for built-in shop vacuum air hoses. Sustainable wood slats on the opposite wall can be used for tying down cargo.

Obviously, Nissan will sell more of these as basic, steel-interior trucks to be outfitted for plumbing or construction subcontractor work.