Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, Inc., distributor of America’s best-selling low-cab-forward trucks, and Utilimaster, Inc., a leading manufacturer of specialty chassis and vehicles, introduced a game-changing commercial van at the American Truck Dealers 2010 Convention & Expo in Orlando.

The walk-in van—with a body designed by Utilimaster Corporation atop a rugged heavy-duty Isuzu NPR chassis and powered by Isuzu’s legendary 3.0-liter diesel engine—will combine the functionality and design flexibility of a custom-built work truck with the styling and ergonomics of a cargo van, all while expected to achieve best-in-class fuel economy savings, meeting the latest EPA emissions standards, offering true commercial truck capability and delivering low cost of ownership.

Prototypes are scheduled to begin rolling off the line in the third quarter of this year, with full production scheduled for the second half of 2011.

“This new walk-in van will be the first vehicle to fully meet the needs of today’s fleet and vocational markets,” said Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. “It will offer significantly more interior height and width than other commercial vans, and it will have multiple design options to maximize utility and driver productivity. Add to that a body design and powertrain that have been engineered for performance, durability and low cost of ownership, and the result is a vehicle that will truly revolutionize the commercial van market.”

Added John Marshall, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Utilimaster, “We have worked extensively with key customers for more than 18 months to develop this product from the ground up and the response so far has been very encouraging. This next-generation van is expected to achieve best-in-class fuel economy along with important features to support commercial van customers, including a distinctly automotive aesthetic, that will set it apart in the marketplace.”

Exterior Design and Construction

The dramatic profile of the new van demonstrates the importance Isuzu and Utilimaster designers placed on aerodynamics. The streamlined shape improves fuel efficiency while it reduces interior noise.

The components and materials used in the construction of the body have been evaluated and selected for:
  • Durability
  • Impact resistance
  • Safety
  • Functionality
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Light weight
  • Ability to be manufactured, painted, repaired and replaced
  • Recyclability
  • Thermal and sound insulation qualities
  • Appearance

“Each component on the body of the new commercial van will use the best material and fastening techniques available for the application,” said Marshall.

The body panels will also be designed for quick removal and replacement so that owners can quickly and easily make minor body repairs.

Two wheelbases—134 and 151 inches—and three cargo area lengths—10, 12 and 14 feet—will be offered. All models will feature a 34-inch-wide by 74-inch-high cab door opening for easy driver ingress and egress. The cab will offer a choice of either swing or sliding doors.

In back, multiple rear door designs will allow the cargo area to be customized to the operator’s needs. Options will include 270-degree twin-swing doors, twin side-sliding doors, and roll-up doors.

Flexible, Functional Interior

The revolution continues inside, with a cab optimized for ergonomics and productivity and a modular cargo area of unprecedented spaciousness that will offer buyers a choice of integrated vocational packages specifically designed for their applications.

Operators will find the new commercial van to be a functional mobile office. Even a driver over six feet in height can walk in and out of the cab in an upright position, and can stand up inside the cab area. The placement and design of instruments and controls have been simplified for ease of use and made modular for easy installation of customer-specific equipment.

The cargo area, easily accessible from the driver’s seat, is perhaps the new van’s most innovative feature. With an interior up to 27 inches higher than a conventional Ford or GM van and 10 inches wider than a Sprinter van, the cargo area can offer up to 700 cubic feet of storage. In addition, a choice of integrated vocational modules will give buyers the opportunity to turn the cargo area into a space virtually customized to their needs.

Each of the vocational cargo-storage modules has been designed to take full advantage of the van’s impressive width and height, and engineered for quick and easy installation, with no drilling or other body modifications required. And any module can be specified as a factory- or dealer-installed option, or ordered through the dealership and installed by the final customer.

“Vocational industries have always had to settle for a ‘compromise’ vehicle,” Skinner said. “With the introduction of this new commercial van, the need to compromise is over forever.”

Engineered to be Capable, Durable, Efficient and Green

While the Isuzu-Utilimaster commercial walk-in van will offer groundbreaking new design and features, it will also provide owners with the reassurance that its chassis and powertrain are proven, rugged and durable.

The foundation of the van’s body-on-frame design will be a heavy-duty Isuzu NPR commercial truck chassis with a GVWR of 12,000 pounds. The frame, front and rear axles and brakes are all proven Isuzu N-Series components. More than 200,000 Isuzu N-Series trucks are produced and sold annually throughout the world. Of the more than 400,000 Isuzu-built diesel trucks sold in North America since 1986, more than 81 percent are still registered and in service today—a testament to the chassis’s strength and dependability.

Powering the van will be Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC engine, a turbocharged and intercooled 3.0-liter dual overhead cam direct-injection four-cylinder diesel that will generate approximately 150 horsepower and 282 foot-pounds of torque. The 4JJ1-TC engine has a 10,000 mile change interval and carries a 310,000 mile B10 life rating. This means that 90% of the engines should reach 310,000 miles without requiring overhaul.

The 4JJ1-TC engine also employs a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology to meet the latest and toughest emissions requirements. The SCR system injects Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) into the hot exhaust stream to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by over 85 percent.

Mated to this powerful, durable, clean powerplant will be an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission with double overdrive and lock-up torque converter plus PTO function.

This powertrain is expected to achieve best-in-class fuel economy dramatically lowering the cost of ownership compared to current cargo vans.

Limitless Potential

“This family of vehicles will have the fit and finish of today’s high-volume cargo vans with the durability and design flexibility demanded of true professional work trucks,” said Skinner. “As a result, this new van will appeal to an enormous segment of the commercial truck market.”

Among the industries and vocations the vehicle is expected to appeal to:
-- Package delivery fleets           -- Dry cleaners and laundries
-- Contractors

-- Heating and air conditioning technicians
-- Cleaning services -- Electricians
-- Plumbers -- Airports
-- Moving and storage companies -- Florists
-- Home health care providers -- Rent-to-own outlets
-- Locksmiths -- Food distributors
-- Lease/rental agencies -- And more
-- Appliance repair and delivery firms

In fact, the potential number of markets and applications likely to embrace the new van is virtually unlimited.

ICTA has also announced here today the selection of Spartan (parent company of Utilimaster) to assemble the newly reintroduced Isuzu N-Series gasoline chassis, including all low-cab-forward Isuzu models powered by the General Motors 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine. Initial production of the gasoline N-Series chassis at one of Spartan’s assembly facilities and is scheduled to begin in the second quarter 2011.

“I expect this to be the beginning of a long-term relationship with a world leading diesel engine and commercial vehicle organization,” said John Sztykiel, president and chief executive officer of Spartan Motors.

About Isuzu

Isuzu Motors Limited (Isuzu) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Since building its first truck in 1918, Isuzu has sold over 26 million trucks worldwide. Among its innovations are the first air-cooled diesel engine in 1936, the first two-ton low-cab-forward truck in 1959, and the first direct-injection diesel engine.

Headquartered in Anaheim, California, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, Inc. (ICTA), is the distributor of Isuzu commercial vehicles in the United States. Isuzu commercial trucks have been the best-selling low-cab-forward trucks in America every year since 1986. For more information, call (866) 441-9638 or visit www.isuzucv.com.

About Utilimaster

Established in 1973, Utilimaster ( www.utilimaster.com) is a leading manufacturer of walk-in vans and commercial truck bodies for the delivery and service markets. As one of the most respected and trusted manufacturers of commercial vehicles, Utilimaster designs, develops, and manufactures products for specific client applications. Utilimaster services the package delivery, one-way truck rental, linen/uniform rental, utility, and bakery/snack delivery markets. The company serves a diverse customer base by offering customized upfit service as well as a full line of aftermarket parts and accessories. Utilimaster is a subsidiary of Spartan Motors, Inc. (Nasdaq:SPAR).

Copyright Business Wire 2010