INDIANAPOLIS. Utilmaster Corp. and Isuzu Commercial Truck of America have combined forces to produce a new commercial walk-in van that will obtain 35% better fuel economy than a traditional commercial van, Isuzu said. The truck, dubbed the Reach, was unveiled at the National Truck Equipment Assn.’s (NTEA) Work Truck Show here yesterday.

Isuzu also announced a production date for gas-powered versions of its NPR and NPR-HD models.

“The Reach is the ideal walk-in van for today’s market because its Isuzu powertrain offers incredible fuel efficiency and proven durability, and its frame, suspension, steering and braking systems are true commercial grade, not just beefed-up passenger van components” said Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. “Today’s fleet and vocational buyers are looking for low cost of ownership, and the Reach lives up to its name—it reaches a new standard in low cost of ownership that no other commercial van can match.”

Built on an Isuzu NPR Eco-Max chassis with a body designed by Utilimaster, the Reach is powered by a 3-liter diesel engine. Isuzu relocated the engine in the stripped chassis to minimize engine protrusion and improve driver movements into and out of the cab.

The chassis is the same 12,000-lb. GVWR as the Eco-Max powered by a biodiesel-compatible 4JJ1-TC 3-liter turbocharged engine producing 150 hp. It includes an Aisin medium-duty 6-spd. automatic transmission with double overdrive, lock-up torque converter and power take-off function.

The engine comes with a B10 durability rating of 310,000 mi., meaning that 90% will reach that mileage before requiring an overhaul, Isuzu said. The Reach includes SCR technology to meet emissions standards.

It is scheduled to go into production this summer.

“The Reach 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.”

Two wheelbases are available – 134 in. and 151 in. – and body lengths of 10, 12 or 14 ft. Depending on which combination of length and wheelbase is chosen, cargo area is between 450 and 630 cubic feet of storage.

Flat vertical side walls, available sliding cab doors and multiple rear-door options are among the features. Other features include available sliding front door, swing-out doors, interior height to give a person 6-ft. tall the ability to stand upright inside the vehicle, available integrated back-up camera, available keyless auto-opening bulkhead door, and a 50% wider aisle than competitive vans, according to Isuzu.

The Reach also includes the option to customize the interior to suit customer’s needs.

In addition to debuting the Reach, Isuzu also announced that production will begin on April 18, 2011, on gas-powered N-Series models. Diesel power will still be offered.

Production will take place at the Spartan Motors facility in Charlotte, MI.

Gas-powered NPR (GVWR of 12,000 lbs.) and NPR-HD (GVWR of 14,500 lbs.) trucks will be available in single cab models with wheelbases of 109, 132.5, 150 and 176 in., and in crew cab configurations with 150- and 176-in. wheelbases.

The vehicles should be available at dealers in May.

The gas models will be powered by a General Motors Vortec 6-liter V-8 engine producing 297 hp. at 4,300 rpm with 372 lbs.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. A 6-spd. automatic transmission with double overdrive will be used.

In addition, a version of the engine compatible with compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will be available.

The gas-powered trucks will be assembled by Spartan Motors.

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