Final Mile: Isuzu Tradepack
It has been 16 years since Isuzu first offered its ‘Tradepack’ truck to the Australian market as a ready to go unit rather than just a bare cab/chassis. The success of the program is evidenced by the recent expansions of the ‘takeaway truck’ range.
Isuzu has responded to customer feedback and its range of ‘takeaway trucks’ has continued to grow, especially following the demise of the locally produced utes manufactured on passenger car platforms, which had been the work vehicle of choice for many tradespeople. Isuzu’s strategy to have a menu of complete and ready to work trucks available through its dealers has been welcomed by buyers who have recognised the advantage of taking delivery of their new vehicles within one or two days of their purchase decision, rather than waiting weeks or months for their new trucks to go through the process of having a custom body built and fitted.
The current ‘Tradepack’ series incorporating an aluminium drop side tray body replete with pipe racks has been expanded with three wheelbases available for the NLR 45-150. Isuzu have added a ‘Traypack’ version to the NNR crew cab range which can accommodate six passengers plus the driver.
The Isuzu NLR Series factory tipper can be obtained in either a conventional rear tipping configuration or with the innovative three-way tipping function with either a 4,500kg or 5,500kg GVM. The additional carrying capacity allows the NLR to comfortably and legally transport equipment such as mini excavators.
Isuzu’s toolbox on wheels, the ‘Servicepack’ came onto the market in 2016 with its multiple swing opening locker doors and has since had versions with gull wing locker doors and adjustable shelving added. These are termed the ‘Servicepack X’ in recognition of the trucks’ resemblance to X wing vehicles in sci-fi movies when the locker doors are fully opened. The various ‘Servicepack’ models have found significant favour with purchasers including tradies, councils and miners. The latest expansions to its range include 4x4 models up to a 4x4 crew cab complete with Servicepack body with a 7,500kgs GVM.
In response to the demand for light trucks that can fulfil the roles being taken up by the Asian and European single and dual cab utes, the Isuzu N Series range now has additional models fitted with an independent front suspension designed to offer a ride more associated with a passenger vehicle than can be provided by a beam axle/leaf spring truck style suspension.
For carriers requiring a more traditional pantech body, Isuzu has developed the ‘Vanpack’ range.
To add more appeal to the argument for an Isuzu light truck over a ute there is a widened availability of two pedal automated manual transmissions (AMT) including for the NPS 4x4 models which were the first 4x4 trucks in the Australian light duty category to be made available with an AMT. The obvious advantage of specifying an AMT for an off-road application such as rural fire services is the volunteer and often inexperienced drivers are able to concentrate on steering in rough terrain and not concern themselves with operating a clutch and shift lever. With both low range and 4x4 selected the AMT operates as a clutch-less manual and will keep engaged whatever gear is selected by the driver which is a benefit when descending steep dirt track inclines. The addition of a kick down switch linked to the accelerator pedal as well as a functional ‘park’ position add to the car-like driving experience and the use of a torque convertor in the AMT’s fitted to NLR and NNR models maximises the effectiveness of the entire driveline.
Two four-cylinder engines are available to power the N series. The 3.0 litre 4JJ1develops 110kW and 375Nm and kicks off the range in the 4.5 tonnes GVM NLR 45-150 model and runs through to the 6.5 tonnes GVM NNR 65-150.
The 5.2 litre 4HK1 engine has a higher torque capability at 419Nm with a marginally higher 114kW of power in the 4.5 and 5.5 tonnes GVM NPR models and is also available with a 140kW rating with 513Nm in the 7.5 and 9.7 tonnes NPR 190 models.
Both engines are equipped with a diesel oxidation catalyst exhaust emission system which is maintenance free for the life of the vehicle with no filters to change and no AdBlue required. A change in the design of the exhaust brake has also added to its effectiveness over previous models.
The success of the Isuzu light duty takeaway trucks has now lead to the creation of the ‘Freightpack’ based on the medium duty F Series cab chassis. Launched at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show the ready to work ‘Freightpack’ is available straight from dealers with 10, 12 or 14 pallet curtainside bodies. As with the lighter N series, the three year truck warranty extends to the body, further adding to its appeal.
Isuzu has considered the common denominators or ingredients, if you like, which are important to its potential customers and now offers a number of factory backed ‘packages’ that capitalise upon its broad model line-up and make the purchase, delivery and aftermarket functions as seamless as buying a burger with cheese and some fries on the side.