FedEx has placed a “large order” of the new Reach commercial walk-in van, to be executed before the end of the year.

The Reach is a lightweight composite van built jointly by Isuzu and Utilimaster. FedEx has been testing five of the vehicles on delivery routes in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Michigan.

“We have been working with Utilimaster and Isuzu since conception to develop a long-life, fuel efficient vehicle that supports the FedEx strategic sustainability objectives. They right-sized the engine down to a more fuel efficient three liters and reduced weight with composite material while maintaining a strong chassis and a spacious interior,” said Dennis Beal, vice president of Global Vehicles at FedEx Express. “The vans are performing well on our routes, and reducing our fuel costs as well as our carbon footprint.”

The Reach is designed with a lightweight composite body from Utilimaster atop an Isuzu NPR Eco-Max chassis. According to Isuzu, the vehicle will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 22,000 lbs. per vehicle per year and offers 35% better fuel economy than a traditional commercial van.

It is powered by Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC 3L diesel engine with selective catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection reducing NOx levels in engine exhaust by 85%.

“We are thrilled that FedEx has recognized the potential of the Reach to offer fuel economy, durability and true commercial truck performance,” said Shaun Skinner, executive vice president & general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. “Today’s fleet and vocational buyers are looking for low cost of ownership, and this order proves that the Reach lives up to its name—it reaches a new standard in low cost of operation compared to traditional step vans.”

Utilimaster said wind tunnel testing indicated the vehicle cuts through the air with a drag coefficient that is 13.1 percent lower than current competitive vans. The aerodynamic design, along with the use of composite materials, contributes to improved fuel efficiency and reduced interior noise. The lightweight composite materials provide a 700-lb. weight savings compared to traditional aluminum and steel materials.

“The Reach provides a 35% improvement in fuel efficiency over alternative delivery trucks, which supports FedEx in attaining their 20% fuel efficiency improvement goal as part of their environmental policy,” said John Forbes, president of Utilimaster. “Our development team has worked closely with FedEx stations to review vehicle fuel economy and route performance on a monthly basis. The results are very positive. The Reach vans are operating on the most extreme delivery routes and performing very well.”