The redesigned 2008 Isuzu Class 3 through 5 N-Series will be in dealer showrooms within 45 days, according to officials from Isuzu Commercial Truck of America (ICTA). Rolling out the first new N-Series to arrive in North America for a press tour here this week, Isuzu's U.S. and Canadian marketing arm also announced ambitious plans to double sales of the low-cab-forward (LCF) models to 50,000 units a year by 2010 and strongly hinted that it would bring a Class 2 or “light” Class 3 model to market in the near future.
The 2008 N-Series, which is also sold with GMC and Chevrolet badges as the W-Series, will be offered in both diesel- and gasoline-powered models with both standard and crew cabs.
The Isuzu 5.2L 4-cyl. diesel engine uses cooled EGR and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to meet the new Federal emissions requirements, and offers an increase in both horsepower (205 hp., up from 190) and peak torque (441 lb.-ft., up from 387). Combined with a new Aisin A465 6-sp. automatic transmission with double overdrive, the new diesel powertrain improves fuel economy over previous models despite the new emissions systems, according to ICTA officials.
The gasoline option uses General Motors' Vortec 6.0L V-8, which also sees a power increase for 2008, delivering 325 hp. and 360 lb.-ft. peak torque. The transmission for the gas N-Series is the Hydro-Matic 4L80 4-sp. automatic with lockup torque converter and overdrive.
The new Isuzu N-Series cab increases interior space over the previous design, while also adding a number of driver comfort and convenience features. Highlights include a new dashboard with high-visibility gauges and a 5-Din opening to accommodate a range of entertainment, communications and safety options. Storage has also been increased inside the new cab. Structurally, the new cab improves corrosion protection and has increased rigidity for better safety and durability.
On the business side, ICTA executive vp & gm Joseph Toturo said company plans for the North American market call for doubling sales from its current 25,000 units a year by 2010 as part of Isuzu's overall goal to expand truck sales outside of Japan. He added that the company would be “less dependent” on strategic partnerships such as its relationship with GMC in moving towards those goals.
As the market leader in Class 3-5 LCF truck sales, the company will not be able to meet those North American goals without expanding its product line, according to Todd Bloom, ICTA vp-marketing. With plans to open a new truck plant in Birmingham, AL, within the next 18 months, the company could move down to lower GVWs, he said. Isuzu does not have a light-duty van in its current worldwide lineup, but it does produce a Class 2 NKR low-cab-forward truck. Due to excise taxes on imported Class 2 trucks, it's most likely any new Isuzu model for the U.S. would be a “light” Class 3 with GVW ratings in the range of 10,500 to 11,000 lb., according to Bloom.