Nissan North America Inc. releases images of a concept van it will debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

The NV2500 Concept, one of the largest concepts Nissan says it ever has created, “previews the company’s entry into the North American Commercial Vehicle market in 2010,” NNA says in a statement.

NNA signaled its plans to become a player in the light-commercial-vehicle segment last spring, announcing it would build several models at its Canton, MS, plant. Nissan also said in addition to the three Canton-built models it also would offer LCVs sourced from other global markets for sale in North America.

The auto maker has begun retooling the plant for LCV production, says The Clarion-Ledger of Mississippi.

The newspaper reports the $118 million project to make the plant suitable for LCV production has begun, with aisles set to be widened and chassis carriages lengthened to accommodate the LCVs, which Nissan has said will have a gross vehicle weight less than 8 tons (7 t).

Nissan opened the plant to much fanfare in 2003, launching production of its first fullsize pickup truck, the Nissan Titan.

But the Titan has underperformed in the U.S. market, and despite the addition of other models at Canton, including the Nissan Armada and Infiniti QX56 large SUVs and Nissan Quest minivan, output ran below capacity. Light-truck builds declined 12% last year from 2006, Ward’s data shows.

Nissan also builds the Altima passenger car on a separate line at Canton. While Altima’s production volume increased in 2007, total plant capacity at Canton reached just 292,671 units in 2007, far below the plant’s 400,000-unit annual capacity.

Nissan said earlier this year it would source the next-generation Titan from Chrysler LLC. The model will be based on the Dodge Ram platform and be produced at Chrysler’s Saltillo, Mexico, plant from 2011.

Nissan has said it will shift production of the QX56 and Quest to Japan, while the Armada is expected to cease production, according to reports.

Meanwhile, Nissan reportedly will idle production at Canton Nov. 14 and Nov. 26. The auto maker also idled production on all Fridays in October to reduce inventories. In July, Nissan eliminated one shift of light-truck builds at Canton but added another shift of Altima ouput in August.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com