With the introduction of the Isuzu Freightpack, the truck buyer gets a truck straight off the forecourt, a truck which can do the job in freight distribution immediately. Diesel News took one out to see just what is on offer in the package.
The concept is pretty east to comprehend, the truck buyer avoids the complex and extremely time consuming task of picking out the right cab chassis for a freight task and then taking this to the body builder to have the right sort of freight carrying body fitted. Then, at long last, the truck can then hit the road and start making money.
Having a body built has got harder over the years. Despite a growing demand for truck bodies, the body building industry has not been able to grow fast enough to keep pace and increase the rate of production to meet the demand for truck bodies.
This has created long waiting times for bodies and frustration for both truck buyer and seller in getting the right product to the right person at the right time. This issue is not going to go away, so truck brands have developed the concept of selling trucks which are ready to start work tomorrow in sectors where the type of body required is relatively generic.
The first sectors to be serviced were the small tipper market and the concept has a long history in the Isuzu camp. The first introduction was of ready to go tippers, followed by the Tradepack and Traypack options, then the Vanpack and now Servicepack.
The trucking industry in Australia first saw the new Freightpack range when it was officially previewed at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show. It takes the concept a little further and a little higher up the weight range. It is based on the F Series and sees a number of models available with bodies from 10 pallets up to 14 pallets.
There are five Freightpack models available in the Isuzu medium duty range from a small FRR 240 hp AMT all the way up to an FVL curtainsider at 300 hp with an Allison automatic transmission. This top of the range is the model Diesel took out on the road to take a look at all of the features which are included in the Freightpack package.
Let’s start at the truck as it stands before the body and safety features come into the picture. The model is the FVL 240-300 Auto. The FVL denotes the cab and chassis combination as being a 6×2 with a wheel base of 7.12m. The 240 tells us this has a GVM of 24 tonnes and the 300 indicates the engine power, in this case 296hp (rounded up to 300).
The engine here is the Isuzu 6HK1 at just under eight litres, this pumps out the 296hp at 2400rpm and maximum torque, at 981Nm (724ftlb), is on tap at 1450rpm. This drives through the excellent Allison 3500 six speed auto transmission, with a final drive at 0.65:1.
The truck out on the highway sits at 100km/h on 2000rpm after a seamless transition up though the ratios to get there. The way the transmission seems to have been set up means that from a standing start the truck feels a little bit soft. It is not going to win any races away from the traffic lights.
However, once it gets up into the higher gears the performance feels a lot more lively. The engine and transmission are flexible and react quickly to any urging from the driver’s right foot on the accelerator. This suggests some conservative setting in the transmission software at lower speeds.
It is not clear why the transmission controls still have to be in the same place as the old manual gearstick would sit. This engine/transmission combination needs little intervention from the driver, apart from choosing whether to put the foot on the gas or the brake. Why can’t the control buttons live on the dash and open up the space between the seats?
The ride is smooth and the combination of the Isuzu taper leafs on the front and the Hendrickson HAS 400 on the rear makes for a good performance on the poorly maintained roads in the area to the west of Melbourne around Truganina and Werriby. The massive building projects in this area have led to damaged roads, which won’t get fixed until the construction phase is over in the area.
This cabin is well over ten years old now, but retains a style which looks modern enough to compete in this market. The dashboard looks a little dated and we can expect this to remain the case until the overall Isuzu range gets a full update up to the next generation of electronics and really comes into the 21st century.
Don’t hold your breath on this update, but what Isuzu had on display at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year, and the developing co-operation between Isuzu and Volvo Group as UD Trucks move across into the Isuzu camp, suggests the next generation is going to become available, on a timescale yet to be announced.