Isuzu promoted the variety of engine choices available on its chassis, including this propane fueled NPR HD.

NTEA Truck Product Conference: Isuzu focuses on powertrain options

Nov. 1, 2012
POWERTRAIN options mean a better fit for customers. That's the philosophy at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, according to Shaun Skinner, executive

POWERTRAIN options mean a better fit for customers.

That's the philosophy at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, according to Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager.

“We are unique in the low-cab-forward segment and some other segments because we don't just offer one engine where we say, ‘Hey, this is going to fit every one of your applications,’” he said. “We have three different engines we offer to our customers for a better fit for their vehicles, which drives the true cost of ownership down. We're able to take the models they drive, the loads they carry, and best match them to the powertrains available.”

Isuzu has two diesel engines — the 4JJ1-TC 3.0-liter and the 4HK1-TC 5.2-liter — and a gas engine that powers the NPR, the only gas-powered cab-forward vehicle in the United States and Canada, which is also available with LPG or CNG.

The 4JJ1-TC is standard on the NPR ECO-MAX and has a high-pressure common-rail fuel injection system that gets the most energy out of fuel and an intercooled, variable-geometry turbocharger that works well over the entire RPM range — helping it produce 150 horsepower and 282 lb-ft of torque.

Isuzu said the NPR ECO-MAX achieves up to 20% better fuel economy than the previous 12,000-lb GVWR NPR. The 4JJ1-TC can be driven up to 10,000 miles between oil changes and has a B10 durability rating of 310,000 miles, meaning that 90% of 4JJ1-TC engines will reach that mileage before requiring an overhaul.

The 4HK1-TC is standard on every NPR-HD, NQR, and NRR and is equipped with electronic high-pressure common-rail direct injection and a water-cooled EGR system to achieve 210 horsepower for trucks equipped with an automatic transmission and 190 horsepower for manual.

It can run up to 10,000 miles between oil changes and boasts a B10 durability rating of 310,000 miles. Even with more power, trucks with the 4HK1-TC gain 8% better fuel economy than the models they replace.

The 12,000-lb GVWR NPR ECO-MAX meets EPA 2010 and California Air Resources Board HD-OBD emissions standards and is clean-idle certified in all 50 states. Isuzu medium-duty trucks were the first LCF to meet all of these stringent standards, and the first in their class to offer Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology with Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) injection to reduce NOx emissions by 85%. Over a twelve-month period, the NPR ECO-MAX trucks will emit 4.2 tons less carbon dioxide.

The new Reach walk-in van, a joint project by Isuzu and Utilimaster, mates an Isuzu NPR chassis and 3-liter diesel engine with a new Utilimaster composite body. The turbocharged diesel produces 150 horsepower and is compatible with biodiesel, and the transmission is a 6-speed automatic from Aisin.

With a 151-inch wheelbase, the Reach is offered with either a 12-foot or 14-foot composite body optimized for aerodynamic efficiency and significantly lighter than steel or aluminum bodies, according to Isuzu. Cargo capacity ranges from 540 to 630 cubic feet, and it can be ordered with either rear swinging doors or a composite roll-up door.

Manufacturing of the Reach delivery vehicle was switched from Utilimaster's Wakarusa, Indiana, facility to Spartan's Charlotte, Michigan, campus, and was completed in the third quarter. The majority of the vehicles were shipped to customers or dealers during July and August. Spartan expects full-year 2012 shipments of 500 to 1000 Reach vehicles. For 2013, the company expects production of the Reach to be approximately double the number of 2012 shipments.

“It's about 15% more aerodynamic than most walk-in vans,” Skinner said. “When you're pushing that kind of mass through the air, anything that can help with aerodynamics will help with fuel economy. And that's becoming a more important piece for everybody.”

Isuzu commercial vehicle dealers can now select Impco Technologies as a ship-through option for customers looking to convert or modify gasoline-powered NPR-HD (14,500-lb GVWR) trucks. The new option will send Isuzu trucks built at the Charlotte plant directly to Impco's OEM Automotive conversion facility in Union City, Indiana, for CNG system installation. This will speed the modification process for dealers and fleet managers, Impco said.

The NPR HD chassis can be equipped with a number of body types, including box trucks, landscaper bodies, and more.

Isuzu also started a new process that will enable Isuzu dealers to more quickly convert or modify gasoline-powered NPR-HD trucks for their customers.

When placing orders for new trucks, Isuzu dealers can select a ship-thru option to indicate that they have arranged to have the trucks modified at one of two independent modification centers near the trucks' Charlotte assembly plant. Following the modification, the center will return the trucks to ICTA, which will then transport them to the dealers that ordered the units. This new process will eliminate unnecessary dealer-incurred transportation expenses and will shorten the amount of time necessary to obtain alternative fuel conversions and certain other types of other modifications.

Isuzu also announced a “major enhancement” to its Isuzu Gold Star coverage program for used Isuzu trucks. In addition to existing three-month/10,000-mile, six-month/20,000-mile, and 12-month/30,000-mile coverage for major powertrain components, Isuzu dealers will now offer powertrain component coverage for 24 months/50,000 miles (whichever comes first) on qualified vehicles.

Isuzu also debuted its new Gold Star Plus Program, which covers fuel injectors, fuel injection pumps, turbochargers, turbo control modules, alternators, starters, and water pumps for 12 months or 20,000 miles.

According to Isuzu, Gold Star and Gold Star Plus limited warranty coverage will be available on select inspected and qualified 2005 model year and newer Isuzu-built N-Series and W-Series diesel-engine vehicles with less than 170,000 miles and gasoline-engine vehicles with less than 100,000 miles.

Skinner said the average Isuzu Class 3 to Class 5 vehicle is traded in after about 6½ years, and many of these vehicles have what Isuzu considers low mileage. So the company believes that offering extended major powertrain component coverage on qualified and thoroughly inspected pre-owned Isuzu trucks makes sense for its dealers and customers.

All Isuzu Gold Star limited warranties include roadside assistance for the time/mileage duration of the selected warranty along with a coupon for a free oil change at a participating Isuzu dealer.

No additional dealer inspections are required for a qualified Isuzu truck to be eligible for the new 24-month/50,000-mile Gold Star or 12-month/20,000-mile Gold Star Plus limited warranties, Skinner noted.

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.