A new commercial vehicle stole the limelight at this year�s Work Truck Show, but it wasn�t a truck.

Photo: Nissan
The NV can be had in two styles, standard roof and high roof.
Photo: Nissan
Van has a pickup-like interior.

Looking to step up the fossilized van market with something that drives more like a modern pickup truck, Nissan unveiled its all-new "NV" work van at the annual truck fair, held March 9-12 in St. Louis.

In production now in Canton, Miss., and expected to hit the North American market in late 2010, Nissan’s first commercial vehicle for North America will come in three models: the NV1500, NV2500HD and NV3500HD.

Last year, Nissan unveiled a concept of the van, decked out with a mini plan room, solar roof and power-tool tray.

Although many of those “concept” features didn’t make it into the final version, the van still carries over some jobsite-ready design elements, such as a passenger seat that flips down to reveal a workstation. The vehicle also is designed to ride and perform more like a pickup truck: The engine is out in front, rather than set back in the cabin as on other vans, so it leaves no clunky “doghouse” between the driver and passenger.

For this and other reasons, Nissan is betting that the new van will be a hit in construction and other trades. "The NV is a very important part of our business in the U.S. and presents us with a tremendous opportunity," says Carlos Tavares, chairman for Nissan Americas.

It will be available with either a 4-liter V-6 or 5.6L V-8 gas engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, and it will have two body styles, either a standard roof (available on all three models) or a high roof (available only on the NV2500HD and NV3500HD).

Nissan says it has designed this with the North American market in mind—nearly 250 dealers have already signed up to sell it.