The truck also could be built with windows and seats for shuttle-bus use. Direct competitors would be Ford's E-van and Dodge's Mercedes-designed Sprinter. Built on a modified Titan all-steel, fully boxed ladder frame, the NV2500 eschews the competitions' cab-over design for a monospace with a separate "conventional" engine compartment, which offers better inherent stability.

Riding on Michelin tires and 20-in. wheels, the NV2500 is 196.4 in. long on a 147.6-in. wheelbase. Interior cargo length is 126.0 in., height, 69.0 in. The truck is 79.6 in. wide and 96.1 in. tall. Front suspension is double-wishbone with a solid rear axle and leaf springs.

Nissan also shows the NV200 concept from the 2007 Tokyo motor show as a potential commercial model for the States. It serves notice to small businesses and to Ford that it intends to sell a smaller-than Transit Connect for florists, bakeries, and the like. Built on Nissan's B-car platform, like the Versa, the concept is set up for a marine biologist/underwater photographer and uses Nissan's "patented sliding cargo pod," a kind of California Closets device in which you pull the gear out from the back hatch. Powered by a clean diesel engine, it also has a mobile office and IT dock. A more conventional empty-box NV200 could be built with or without windows, the former for small people-moving/new-age taxi duties.

While it's not the best time to be launching vehicles for any new segment, Nissan notes that the calendar year launch of its first North American commercial truck comes on its 75th anniversary of producing such trucks; the first was a Japanese-market model in 1935. Now it plans three new North American commercial vehicles in three years beginning in '10, in multiple segments up to Class 5. Nissan estimates it will have 250 to 300 dealers in the U.S. (Nissan has 1070 passenger-car dealers here). With up to one million commercial vehicles sold in the U.S. each year (probably 800,000 last year), it's another tough market segment. But it has better potential than Nissan's recent attempt to break into the big American pickup-truck market.