Isuzu Commercial Truck of America announced Thursday, April 22, that Spartan Motors Inc., a manufacturer of specialty chassis and vehicles, has been selected to assemble gasoline-powered ICTA N-Series trucks. Spartan will assemble all gasoline-engine models of the ICTA N-Series chassis to ICTA’s specifications at one of its assembly facilities beginning in the second quarter of 2011. The powertrain will employ a General Motors 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine and Hydra-Matic 6-speed transmission.
Gasoline-powered N-Series trucks had been assembled by GM at its plant in Janesville, Wis., until the plant ceased operations in 2009. Last month, ICTA announced that an agreement had been reached with GM for the supply of transmissions and gasoline engines used for gas-powered ICTA NPR and NPR-HD trucks in both single and Crewcab models, and that these vehicles would be reintroduced for the 2012 model year. The company also announced that it would soon be announcing the new assembler of the gas-engine low-cab-forward trucks.
“We are excited to have Spartan, one of the industry’s most respected builders of high-quality custom chassis, help reintroduce our line of gasoline-powered N-Series trucks,” says Shaun Skinner, ICTA executive vice president and general manager. “Together, we will position ICTA’s dealer body to once again offer the broadest range of low-cab-forward solutions in the industry.”
“I expect this to be the beginning of a long-term relationship with a world leading diesel engine and commercial vehicle organization,” says John Sztykiel, president and chief executive officer of Spartan Motors. “This relationship with the Isuzu group enhances Spartan’s ability to leverage our capacity and our engineering and manufacturing expertise, which is critical as the landscape for the commercial vehicle market is transformed by economic, environmental and regulatory forces.”
ICTA also announced the development of a next-generation commercial van combining a body designed by Spartan’s Utilimaster Corp. subsidiary with ICTA’s NPR diesel chassis. ICTA says the walk-in van, powered by its 3.0-liter diesel engine, will combine the functionality and design flexibility of a custom-built work truck with the styling and ergonomics of a cargo van, all while achieving best-in-class fuel economy savings, meeting the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards, offering true commercial truck capability and delivering low cost of ownership. Prototypes are scheduled to begin rolling off the line in the third quarter of this year, with full production scheduled for the second half of 2011.
“This new walk-in van will be the first vehicle to fully meet the needs of today’s fleet and vocational markets,” Skinner says. “It will offer significantly more interior height and width than other commercial vans, and it will have multiple design options to maximize utility and driver productivity. Add to that a body design and powertrain that have been engineered for performance, durability and low cost of ownership, and the result is a vehicle that will truly revolutionize the commercial van market.”
Added John Marshall, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Utilimaster, “We have worked extensively with key customers for more than 18 months to develop this product from the ground up, and the response so far has been very encouraging. This next-generation van is expected to achieve best-in-class fuel economy along with important features to support commercial van customers, including a distinctly automotive aesthetic that will set it apart in the marketplace.”
ICTA also announced a partnership with Yokohama Tire Corp. on a commercial truck dealer program that gives ICTA dealers nationwide the opportunity to provide their customers with Yokohama’s full line of commercial tires, including their low rolling-resistance Zenvironment line and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay-verified tires.
In addition to products, participating dealers will have access to POS display materials that will help enhance their showroom while providing customer education on the benefits of Yokohama tires. POS essentials include brochures, bulletins, literature racks and banners. “This new partnership with Isuzu is all about servicing the needs of America’s commercial fleets and truck drivers,” says John Cooney, Yokohama director of commercial sales. “They will now have more access to our product through the nearly 300-strong Isuzu dealer network. The program will also improve the dealers’ ability to provide additional customer service.”
Skinner says the Yokohama- ICTA tire program is another example of ICTA’s commitment to its customers so they can enjoy exceptional savings and one-stop service and parts. “The program supports the Isuzu product line and also enables Isuzu dealers to offer the superior Yokohama line of replacement tires for all light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks,” Skinner says. “Yokohama is the approved replacement tire being offered as part of the Isuzu Priority Service Maintenance Program.”