Isuzu Eco-Max helps Minnesota fleet cut fuel costs

Updated Mar 2, 2012

Isuzu says its NPR ECO-MAX trucks are now helping one of the nation’s largest food purveyors achieve its goals of reduced fuel consumption and a smaller carbon footprint.

Deli Express/E.A. Sween Company of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, boasts several Isuzu NPR ECO-MAX trucks in its fleet with more Isuzu Trucks on the way, the results have exceeded the company’s highest expectations.

According to Gregg Hodgdon, head of fleet operations Deli Express, “These vehicles are demonstrating nearly 50 percent better fuel economy then the rest of our fleet and are emitting about 700 pounds less carbon dioxide every month.” Over a twelve-month period, the NPR ECO-MAX trucks will emit 4.2 tons less carbon dioxide.

“These results are proof that it is possible to improve a fleet’s carbon footprint through weight reduction and efficient technologies while still utilizing a traditional fuel source,” Hodgdon says.

An additional, benefit: Deli Express drivers prefer the new trucks to their predecessors. “Our drivers love the NPR ECO-MAX,” says Hodgdon. “It’s closer to the ground, so they don’t have to stretch to get in and out. We love the design of the whole truck.”

Hodgdon and Deli Express began their quest for a greener, more fuel efficient truck that would not sacrifice performance, durability or ergonomics over two years ago. With the assistance of the company’s fleet management partner, Automotive Resources International (ARI), Hodgdon explored a variety of alternative technologies to determine which fuel type could work best for Deli Express.

“We realized that it was indeed possible to make a positive, sustainable change with traditional fuels,” according to Hodgdon—“but it would require an innovative truck design that could significantly improve fuel economy without compromising the power, reliability and convenience that Deli Express drivers demand.”

Introduced for 2011, the 12,000-lb. GVWR NPR ECO-MAX features Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that generates 150 horsepower and 282 lbs.-ft. of torque, more than enough, Hodgdon says, “to move the driver, the daily cargo load and the lightweight body without breaking a sweat.”

Like all current Isuzu trucks, the NPR ECO-MAX boasts a B10 engine life rating of 310,000 miles, meaning that 90 percent of 4JJ1-TC engines will reach that mileage before requiring an overhaul.

As with all the Isuzu truck line, the NPR ECO-MAX meets EPA 2010 and California Air Resources Board HD-OBD emissions standards and is clean-idle certified in all 50 states. Isuzu medium-duty trucks were the first LCF to meet all of these stringent standards, and the first in their class to offer Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology with Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) injection to reduce NOx emissions by 85 percent.

To provide an efficient refrigeration unit to complete the new truck, Deli Express selected Thermo King’s new V-520 RT Spectrum direct drive unit. The Spectrum is ideally suited to handle the company’s requirements for both the fresh and frozen compartments of the truck.

An innovative heating system enables productivity gains by allowing specialized thawing applications to occur on the truck rather than in a warehouse. The refrigeration system is capable of maintaining the required temperatures throughout the geographic reach of Deli Express, which includes both hot and cold climates.

The Spectrum uses electric standby to reduce fuel consumption and corresponding emissions. The unit also uses a low amount of refrigerant, which reduces its impact on the environment.

The time span from concept to delivery of the first specially equipped Isuzu trucks was a mere 18 months, and now a pipeline of vehicles is being integrated into the Deli Express fleet.

Working with clients and equipment suppliers to develop customized solutions to issues of efficiency, sustainability, performance and dependability is nothing new for Isuzu. “We are thrilled—but not surprised—that the NPR ECO-MAX is already performing so well for our partners at Deli Express,” says Shaun C. Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. “We strive to provide all of our customers with the exact trucks they require, whether they are trying to achieve low cost of operation, minimal downtime, exceptional hauling capability, power, Zxzxzxfuel economy, or environmental friendliness—or all of the above.”