For the first time since 2008, Isuzu Australia Ltd (IAL) has unveiled details of an all new truck range that will be rolled out in Australia from 2024.
Announced at the recent Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo, the first diesel trucks to arrive for the long-time market leader will be the four-cylinder medium-duty F Series models in the second half of next year.
“The launch and release of an entirely new product line-up, from our driver’s licence N Series models all the way through to our FY heavy-duty trucks represents a significant undertaking, and so staging the various range releases in Australia made best sense,” explained Isuzu Australia director and chief operating officer Andrew Harbison.
“This, combined with the production timelines from the factory in Japan, mean that we’ll see our full model line-up progressively rolled-out leading into the ADR 80/04 heavy vehicle exhaust emissions in late 2025.”
The innovative Isuzu modular architecture and component standard, or I-MACS, underpins the new model’s entire design and functionality, said Isuzu.
The approach is one of combining various components, parts, and devices on an ‘as needs basis’, thereby catering to the diverse requirements of Isuzu truck customers and markets.
Medium and heavy-duty product manager and chief engineer, Simon Humphries, said the new four-cylinder F Series models cover the key 9000 to 12,000kg GVM sub-segment of the medium-duty market.
“A key category where we’ve been fortunate to enjoy over 50 per cent market share year to date,” said medium and heavy-duty product manager and chief engineer, Simon Humphries.
“These all-new models deliver on the design premise, with best-in-class safety features, new cab design and improved ergonomics, the latest exhaust emissions treatment and new cabin and engine combinations.
“We’ve retained and further enhanced our highly regarded, low displacement, high-torque four cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled N-4HK1 engine, with lower exhaust emissions courtesy of the new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system for lower NOx output.”
The N-4HK1 produces 177 kW power (240 PS) and 765 Nm in the FFR/D, FSR/D models and 154 kW power (210 PS) and 726 Nm for the FSS 4×4.
Transmissions include the six-speed torque-converter automated manual (TC-AMT) and six-speed manual.
The new F Series variants feature three new safety systems on top of what Isuzu says was already a class-leading package.
“We now have adaptive driving beam (ADB), full-speed adaptive cruise control (ACC) and traffic sign recognition (TSR), all features that contribute greatly to the experience of driving the vehicle and for others in the environment.”
The new FRR/D, FSR/D models also benefit from the inclusion of the auto lighting system and auto rain sensing wipers (AWS), to round out the full-featured safety suite. Additionally, FSS 4×4 models will see the introduction of advanced emergency braking (AEB) and electronic stability control (ESC) – a first for Japanese vehicles in this category.
FRR and FRD models also receive full air braking system with EBS, while further enhancements to the vehicle include advanced CAN electronic architecture for better integration and control of ancillary and body builder equipment.
Inside the cab, drivers are greeted by an all-new interior, with new display, dash, lighting, storage and seating and steering componentry, with improved ergonomics contributing to reduced user fatigue.
Essential operational information is provided to the driver via the large and sharp, enhanced full-colour TFT 7-inch multi-information display, located between the speedometer and tachometer.
Comfort out on the road is provided via the new ISRI NTS2 6860 driver’s seat, while improved user experience comes by way of a new steering wheel featuring buttons for the AV unit, cruise, and the multi-information display.
The cab exterior has also undergone a full transformation with new lamp assemblies and aerodynamically sculpted panels.
A new grille provides a powerful visual statement, with the integration of the Isuzu badge allowing for greater flexibility for client livery and signage.
The smart looking and smart performing headlamps incorporate a combination LED lamp assembly with Bi-LED high and low-beam, distinctive daytime running lamp (DRL), position lamps and indicators, all in one unit.
“This new headlamp is both a well-executed design element on the truck, and it performs effectively with the multitude of standard functions, plus the new adaptive driving beam,” Humphries said.
“This is reflective of the smart thinking that is evident throughout these new models, provided with both excellent form and function.
“From the conceptual approach with the modular engineering design and I-MACS, to the visual design and the integration and performance of the various components of the truck, I can see that we have a product that will enhance the transport operations of our customers in a variety of ways.
Medium and heavy-duty powerhouses
Another major part of the launch of the new Isuzu model range will be the F Series 6-cylinder models, with a 6.7-litre DB6A Euro 6 engine in FSR/D, FV and FTS models. These models will all feature Allison full automatic transmissions.
“Our 6-cylinder F Series model range with new engine that is an outcome of the alliance with Cummins represents one of the first major product initiatives from Isuzu Motors’ strategic partnerships,” said Humphries.
“This is a first-class product, and the Isuzu medium-duty truck range has long-benefited from Isuzu’s expertise in incorporating the industry benchmark components.
“We’ve also upped the spec on our heavy-duty FV models, with higher capacity steer axles, Meritor full-air disc brakes, and an all-new chassis frame.”
The FX and FY heavy-duty model ranges will also herald the introduction of Isuzu’s Euro 6 (Step C) 6UZ1 Isuzu engine and once again, a shift to auto only, with the Allison HD4430 across all models.
“The 7.8-litre and 6HK1 has done a magnificent job for us but it is not being developed beyond the current emissions standards,” Humphries said.
The trucks will also receive higher capacity Meritor steer axles and Meritor full-air disc brakes on all axles, plus a comprehensive ADAS suite.
“We’ve been able to keep Meritor axles but combine it with the modern disc brake technology and an all new rivetless top flange chassis frame 870mil wide, so pretty big news.
“Of note, is also higher capacity steer axles. We’re anticipating what’s happening in the regulatory space with the increased axle limits that are being talked about, requiring wider tyres, and the like.”
The new MY25 N Series light truck range is set to build on its enduring market success with a host of new features and an expanded line-up.
“The new N Series is a winner in so many ways, from the new cab to more car drivers’ licence and tipper models, increased GVM ratings, first-in-class safety and ADR80/04 emissions compliance, it all stacks up,” said light-duty product manager, Jeff Gibson.
“We also have some pretty-neat new model options including the tight-access master – the NKR, new 6500kg GVM narrow cab models and a new high-power 4J engine variant, the 4JZ1 with both 150 and 175-horsepower ratings.
“The all-new cab is comfortable, spacious and very efficiently appointed, while our new 9-speed Isuzu dual clutch transmission will provide seamless shifts for a super smooth driving experience,” he continued.
Upgraded safety features include intersection autonomous emergency braking (IEB) on all models, full-speed adaptive cruise control (FACC) for all 2-pedal models and traffic sign recognition (TCR) for all models.
“With pilot models due to arrive shortly for our validation trials, we’re keen to get out on the road and put this new model through its final paces,” Gibson said.
The current ‘start of sales’ target for the MY25 N Series is early 2025.
N Series EV trials
The roll-out of the all-new range also includes the signature N Series EV, with Australian customer trials scheduled for 2024.
“We also have several Japanese-spec N Series battery electric models due to arrive shortly in Australia,” continued Gibson.
“In line with our strategy of targeting last mile and local council and government applications, the trucks will be car and light rigid licence models, rated and 4.5 and 7.5 tonnes GVM.
“The eNLR at 4.5 tonnes GMV will feature a three-battery configuration with 60kWh capacity. The eNPR is rated at 7.5 tonnes GVM in a five-battery configuration with 100kWh capacity. Battery electric trucks on the ground and in trial is a major stage in this overall new model release program and it’s a remarkable experience to be a part of.”
Harbison told Big Rigs that Isuzu is anticipating having the first EV product in Australia by the end of 2023 or early 2024 for preliminary testing and then in customers’ hands for the first customer trials in the first couple of months of 2024.
He said Isuzu will be primarily targeting the council and last mile logistics sector – Isuzu’s international partner FedEx is a likely early adopter – but won’t be rushing to market.
“As the market leader you always want to be first to market with something but it’s interesting that if you look back over the introduction of technology history with Isuzu we actually haven’t been first to market with a lot of stuff.
“What we’ve always strived to do is make sure the technology is always right so that when it gets into the customers’ hands it’s going to fit within the ‘reliability is everything’ mantra that we live by.
“We don’t want to use our customers in Australia as the final test bed of our product. We want to ensure that it’s right before it gets to them.”
Head of product Matt Sakhaie told industry media in Tokyo that Isuzu Australia is well into the launch program for these new model ranges and is anticipating excellent performance in local operating conditions.
“The execution of the design concepts and principles into the product is impressive,” Sakhaie said.
“The simple example of the new N Series EV and ICE product and the commonality of platforms and yet vast number of possible configurations and variations to meet all manner of market and customer needs is quite remarkable,” he said.
“It’s this agile approach and broad thinking that encourages us at IAL, as we know we’ll have an even better product to offer shortly.”
An overarching theme of the Isuzu/UD Trucks showcase in Tokyo was the Isuzu Group’s long-term goal to create environmentally responsible transport that can drive both economic growth as well as positive environmental outcomes.
“This broader push from our parent company is of course well underway and as we saw in Tokyo, an unapologetically holistic approach to technological development is being pursued,” noted Harbison.
A significant part of this approach is the Isuzu Modular Architecture and Component Standard (I-MACS) – a new approach to product development that allows the combination of various components, parts and devices to be applied in light of future tech advancement and the expansion of vehicle types.
Industry media got a first-hand look at the methodology in action at Isuzu Motors Limited’s manufacturing plant in Fujisawa.
“Offering agile responses to changes in customer need and identifying the range of challenges faced by our customers is a key driver in developing and rolling-out these strategies and companywide capabilities,” added Sakhaie.
“We have set out to improve overall product delivery – be that the delivery of fit-for-purpose solutions or reducing the time-to-market To better emphasise this transformation, every product and support offering throughout the Isuzu Australia brand has now been consolidated under one banner.
“From commercial vehicles – be they light-, medium- or heavy-duty, internal combustion or battery electric – through to parts, accessories, power solutions and our broader mobility offering, every product now has the same in-house development process applied, with the voice of the end user very firmly top of mind.
“Specialised teams within IAL now head-up these product disciplines and the responsibility for product development across each of these divisions is led by one point of contact. From an engineering capability standpoint, these are profound changes, enabling the product team to function at its maximum capacity with benefits to our dealer network and ultimately our customers.”
Sakhaie said a good example of this approach at the Melbourne HQ can be seen in the Isuzu Dual Control line-up, the popular 10×4 product as well as the brand’s Agitator specification.
“Our growing product capabilities represent an innovative and genuine solution for the end user,” Sakhaie said.
“This broader fit-for-purpose engineering approach also serves to elevate the Isuzu brand from that of our competition.”
Other highlights at the joint Isuzu/UD Trucks stand in Tokyo was a world-first reveal of the e-Vision Cycle Concept which showcased the potential for a fast-turnaround battery-swap system and a look at the Quon GW 6×4, a model being closely watched by the Australian market. The truck is already on sale in Japan under the Isuzu EXY classification and is touted to combine efficiency and power for heavy hauling applications.
“Having boots on the ground here Tokyo, it’s hard not to get swept up in the concept that this really is a critical juncture in our industry’s history,” Harbison said.
“It’s a fantastic time to be involved in the transport industry and it does feel as though we’re on the cusp of seismic change in the way we think about and approach transport and mobility, especially from a product perspective.”