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Truck & Bus News talked to Isuzu Malaysia to find out more about their new products in applications, improvements, fuel efficiency, among other aspects.
To increase its brand’s appeal and expand its offerings, Isuzu Malaysia launched several variants of its Elf and Forward commercial trucks in July 2019. This included the 6-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) on selected models and a 19-tonne Forward variant.
Truck & Bus News met with Isuzu Malaysia Commercial Vehicle Division Senior Sales Engineer Kunihisa Nagata and Senior Manager of Product Management Tian Soon Choon recently to find out more about these new products in applications, improvements, fuel efficiency, market response, among other aspects.
“We received very encouraging response from the market after the official launch. Many commented that the new Elf models had better fuel consumption, especially the ‘smoother’ models that feature a secondary ECONO Mode with which the driver could select to automatically change gears at lower engine revolutions, providing even greater fuel savings,” said Nagata.
Following the launch of the new 2019 line-up, Isuzu Malaysia now offers 19 Elf variants of various tonnages and drivetrain, covering 4-wheelers, 6-wheelers, 4x4s and crew-cabs. “This allows us to offer truck operators a wider selection of variants, from which they could select the appropriate Isuzu vehicle for their operation and transportation needs. For them to find the ‘right fit’, it is important for us to help them understand our truck range, the features of each range and models as well as the different applications.”
Isuzu vehicles, Tian said, were suitable for any industry. However, he pointed out that the new Isuzu NPR75, NLR85 and NPR81 came standard with upgraded alternators to provide a bigger capacity, making them especially suitable for the cold chain industry. The quality of chilled and frozen products could only be maintained under temperature-controlled settings. As for medicines and pharma products, it could be a matter of life and death. With the right system and reliable vehicle in place, one could achieve significant savings in reduced product loss and higher customer satisfaction.
The Isuzu NPR75 and NLR85, he stressed, had the highest ACG capacity in the class of 24V/90A as well as the NPR81 with 24V/80A in the local market. “Previously, customers that required bigger ACG capacity had to send their trucks for modification. We have upgraded the alternator to shorten the lead time in delivery.”
Also new is the Elf NLR 4-wheeler with a new wheelbase of 3,345mm, which he said was the longest in the standard wheelbase class. Before this, Nagata said, it was local UBS without warranty but now it was factory fitted, no authority approval was required and there was a warranty by Isuzu. No additional modification cost was involved and there was only a standardised cost in the chassis price.
Having the longest and bigger rear body in the 4-wheel class, he pointed out, allowed the Elf NLR 4 to carry more volume and help the operator reduce running costs such as fuel and toll.
“This is our response to the growth of e-commerce Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Customer-to-Customer (C2C) platforms that demand more courier service and logistics trucks with bigger cargo space for light parcels.”
As for the Elf NLR 130 and NPR 150 Smoother models, Tian said they were Isuzu’s solution to the shortage of skilled drivers for manual transmission trucks.
“These trucks are fitted with the Smoother 6-speed Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) and could be easily driven by unskilled and new drivers as both the decision to perform a gear shift and the actuation of clutch/gears are done automatically without the intervention of the driver. Isuzu’s Smoother selects the most appropriate gear for a given driving condition, ensuring that engine revolutions remain within the optimal range, thus extending the life of the engine and drivetrain.”
According to Nagata, Smoother models were targeted at courier service, refrigerated, or general cargo transportation fleet operators for local delivery that encountered many start-stops and traffic jam conditions.
Nagata took pride in Isuzu Malaysia for being the first automobile company that offered AMT in the Malaysian light duty truck segment. AMT, he explained, combined the advantages of a manual transmission (MT) and automatic transmission (AT).
“The price difference between our MT and Smoother models is not that significant, making it worthwhile to invest in. The benefits are many. Our Smoother models could reduce downtime and maintenance cost related to clutch change and adjustment as they do not have a clutch disc. Besides the periodic fluid coupling oil change, there is no need to dismantle the transmission to check clutch wear and no clutch replacement is required, saving a lot of time. In addition, fuel consumption could be reduced even with unskilled and new drivers, thanks to the secondary ECONO mode mentioned earlier and gear shifts being controlled by an ECU. Drivers too would find the Smoother models a boon and less fatiguing, enabling them to better retain concentration throughout their workday.”
He revealed that the company was still waiting for market response on the Smoother models as their effectiveness could not be felt immediately, but after a period of time.
“We would know how effective our Isuzu Smoother models are in helping our customers reduce their cost of ownership and operation as well as in hiring drivers through Shoki-Ryudo activities that are conducted by our Sales Engineers free of charge. Shoki-Ryudo is a truck initial usage monitoring process to ensure the vehicle purchased is operating in good condition without breakdowns and providing the necessary improvements. It is for Isuzu all models including Elf, Forward, Giga. ”
Meanwhile, the Isuzu Forward range, he continued, which was a favourite among long haulers was further improved with a beefier chassis and higher performance. Responding to the Malaysian new weight restriction order 2018 that allowed higher Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) for medium and heavy duty trucks, Isuzu Malaysia upgraded the GVW of its FVR300, FVR240 and FVR Auto to 19 tonnes to meet market demand.
“The upgraded GVW capacity from 18 tonnes previously to 19 tonnes allows owners of the FVR300 to maximise each load and reduce transportation cost. Easy manoeuvrability on suburban roads and highways also made it ideal for long and intra-city hauling, eliminating the need to break bulk for urban pick up and deliveries. The front axle capacity is increased to 7,500kg for superior carrying capacity.”
Apart from that, the enhanced 300hp Euro 3 engine with 986Nm of torque, which was the highest in its class, he said, gave the FVR300 model superior performance for severe operation and over Malaysian road conditions, particularly on hilly terrain. He recommended this model for transport service and poultry carriers as well as those who were considering a 6x2 conversion.
“Equipped with a new Eaton transmission, the FVR300 range now uses nine forward speeds including a 'crawler' gear for severe terrain. The new transmission ratios better match the engine's improved performance characteristics, giving the FVR more flexible performance while engine revolutions remain more frequently in the optimal zone,” added Tian.
Isuzu Malaysia chose to retain the FVR240 model in the line-up for those who require large cargo capacity but haul less weighty bulk. It is suitable for the transport and courier service industry as well as cold chain industry as a refrigerated truck. Safe stopping force and firm parking on a slope are among its strengths.
As for the Forward Auto, Nagata pointed out that it had been in the market for about 4 years. It was widely used as garbage compactors, road service trucks and aircraft refuelling vehicles. The new range now came with a slightly longer wheelbase – 5,060mm – that he explained was to accommodate the automatic bin lifter.
Further upgrades to the Forward line-up included a new chassis, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with full air brake and a larger capacity alternator that could better meet the power demands of high-amperage equipment.
The good old models that were still maintained were the Isuzu Giga heavy duty truck range, Nagata said, which were for tipper usage, while the Isuzu Prime Mover is for long haul logistics application.
With the new 2019 line-up on stream, he said the company was aiming at 40 per cent of the local total market share. “We currently occupy more than 35 per cent of total market share and hope to achieve our target with the new offerings that are intended specifically to meet current market needs and requirements.”
马来亚五十铃为了提升其品牌吸引力和供应，在2019年7月推出了Elf 和Forward商用车系的好几个新车型。这包括在某些特定的车款上配备6速手自排和19吨Forward 款型。
“在正式的发布会后，市场反应令人感到鼓舞。许多业者表示全新的Elf车款更加省油，特别是配备二级Econo 模式的 ‘Smoother’车款 ，让司机能够在引擎转速较低时选择自动换档 ，带来更大的燃油节省。”永田晋久表示。
另一个新品是 配备 3，345毫米长轴距的Elf NLR 4轮卡车，他说该车型是目前标准轴距中长度最长的卡车。永田晋久说，在这之前的轴距都是由本地车身制造商自行加长，没有任何保修期，但现在是原工厂装配，五十铃提供保修。因此，客户只需支付标准的底盘价格，不需要获得有关当局的批准。
他指出，在4轮卡车级别中拥有最长的轴距和较大的后车身，使Elf NLR4 拥有更高的装载量，协助营运者降低运行成本如燃油和通行费。
陈顺春表示，至于Elf NLR 130 和NPR 150 Smoother车型，则是五十铃针对市场缺乏熟练手排卡车司机所提供的解决方案。
“熟练或新手司机能够轻易驾驭这些配备Smoother 6 速自手排（AMT）变速箱的卡车。这是因为自手排自带换档功能，离合器/变速器会自行启动 ，无需司机的干预。五十铃Smoother会按照路况，自动切换所需档位，确保引擎转速维持在最佳范围内，延长引擎和传输系统的使用寿命。”
“Smoother 车型与我们的手排卡车的价格差异不大，因此很值得投资。更何况，前者有许多优点。我们的Smoother车型能够降低停机时间和与离合器相关的维修成本如更换和调整离合器，因为它没有离合片。除了定期为液力偶合器换油，无需拆卸变速器来检查离合器的磨耗情况和更换离合器，非常节省时间。此外，我们在前面曾提过二级Econo模式，在该模式下 ECU将控制换档，所以即使是由不熟练和新手司机驾驶这些卡车也能降低油耗。司机也会发现Smoother车型能够提高他们的工作素质，降低疲劳，让他们在工作日的一整天拥有更好的注意力。”
与此同时，他继续说，深受长途运输客户喜爱的五十铃Forward系列，如今拥有更坚固的底盘和更高的性能。马来西亚五十铃在政府于2018年公布全新重量限制法令，允许中重型卡车拥有更高的车全重后，将其FVR300，FVR240 及FVR Auto的车全重提高至19吨，以符合市场的需求。
此外，他说，它加强的300马力欧3引擎，可输出986 牛顿米扭矩，是该级别中最高的，使FVR300车型在马来西亚严苛刻操作和恶劣路况下，特别是丘陵地带拥有卓越性能。他认为此款型相当适用于运输服务和作为家禽运输车 ，以及那些考虑转换成6X2车型的业者。
永田晋久指出，FVR Forward Auto推出市场约有4年。它被广泛用作垃圾压缩车、道路服务卡车及飞机添油车。 该系列如今拥有较长的轴距--- 5，060毫米，他解释是为了能够安装上自动垃圾桶升降机。
随着2019年新车型的推出，他表示公司的目标是在本地市场取得40% 的市占额。“我们如今拥有超过35% 的市占额，我们希望这些专为满足市场需求而设计的新产品，能够协助我们达到这个目标。”
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