As­so­ciate Ed­i­tor Dean Evans dis­cov­ers a trans-tas­man col­lab­o­ra­tion to cre­ate a new type of ser­vice truck.

ISUZU HAS TEAMED UP WITH SER­VICE BOD­IES AUS­TRALIA and Palfin­ger to cre­ate a quick-to-build light­weight ur­ban work­horse that can be driven on a car li­cence.

It’s the per­fect truck for op­er­a­tors who’ve out­grown a ute, but don’t want a big truck, and for when a one-tonne ute isn’t enough, but a three-tonne one is overkill.

That’s where the ap­peal of this Isuzu NLR 250S ser­vice truck, fit­ted with Ser­vice Bod­ies Aus­tralia Ci­typro body­work, be­comes clear when you ex­am­ine it closely.

The Isuzu/sba com­bi­na­tion is an ex­clu­sive part­ner­ship be­tween Isuzu Aus­tralia and Ser­vice Bod­ies Aus­tralia (and Palfin­ger for the crane op­tion).

Kiwi and Aussie com­pa­nies have worked to­gether to make a highly prac­ti­cal and com­pact work­horse based around the N Se­ries of Isuzu light trucks.

The bod­ies are im­ported into New Zealand and fit­ted by two com­pa­nies: CAL Isuzu in Hamil­ton does the work for North Is­land cus­tomers, and Small­bone Isuzu in Ash­bur­ton and Ti­maru for the South Is­land buy­ers.

SBA of­fers two main truck body mod­els, the Ci­typro and Ur­ban­pro; there are six to seven size de­riv­a­tives and a range of pay­loads from 1800k to 2500kg that can be driven by car li­cence hold­ers. Pay­loads of up to 4000kg for heavy-duty ser­vice, for both car and truck li­cences.

“There are six ba­sic mod­els across the range,” says CAL Isuzu’s An­drew Far­rell, at the large Isuzu truck deal­er­ship in Te Rapa Park, Hamil­ton.

When LCV Mag­a­zine called, CAL had just fin­ished its first unit, the ve­hi­cle pic­tured, a NLR 250S fit­ted with the Ci­typro body The ease with which the units come to­gether is a key as­pect of their ap­peal. “The units come in fully fit­ted and ready to be put on to a chas­sis cab,” says An­drew. “Fit­ment takes around three to four hours, de­pend­ing on the level of ac­ces­sories. “This is the small­est in the range, on the NLR nar­row cab, short-wheel­base.”

The truck’s cab of­fers a good all-around view, and is wide enough to com­fort­ably fit three across.

There’s a range of fac­tory Isuzu equip­ment, in­clud­ing re­mote cen­tral door-lock­ing, ad­justable sus­pen­sion on the driver’s seat base, ad­justable steer­ing, and a Blue­tooth-en­abled sound sys­tem that’s smarter than it first looks.

Of­fer­ing both USB and 3.5mm in­puts, it can op­er­ate sat­nav through an op­tional GPS SD card; the sys­tem also fea­tures an op­tional Isuzu re­vers­ing cam­era and au­dio unit, which is in­te­grated into the body though a pro­file-cut hole.

It can run up to four cam­era/au­dio units that can be se­lected man­u­ally any­time. They can be se­lected in­di­vid­u­ally, or as a com­bi­na­tion for two, three or four split-screen dis­plays.

There’s also a bea­con but­ton on the right-hand side of the dash­board which op­er­ates the op­tional ac­ces­sory roof light.

The clue that the cab is a lit­tle bit spe­cial is a Din-sized panel to the left of the au­dio sys­tem that con­tains a soli­tary rocker switch for the in­ter­nal body light.

It’s po­si­tioned to al­low for easy ac­cess from ei­ther the left- or right­hand side of the parked ve­hi­cle. The sim­ple switch ac­ti­vates sev­eral LEDS that are in­cor­po­rated clev­erly through­out the stor­age ar­eas.

The switch of­fers an­other clue about the in­te­gra­tion of the body on to the chas­sis.

Three small har­nesses that in­te­grate into the Isuzu’s wiring loom

for the switch ef­fec­tively en­able the truck’s plug-and-play sys­tem, con­trol­ling LEDS and cen­tral lock­ing, that un­locks not just the cab doors, but each of the 12 cab­i­net doors on the truck’s body­work.

It’s also a smart sys­tem; if any of the doors are ajar, the cen­tral lock­ing won’t ac­ti­vate, sig­nalling the safety or se­cu­rity risk.

With the doors un­locked, the body re­veals eight main stor­age ar­eas. They start with a tall, nar­row through box, which is ac­ces­si­ble from ei­ther side of the truck, and is ideal for long tools – shov­els, for ex­am­ple – or cylin­dri­cal ob­jects that could roll around.

The doors them­selves are dou­ble-skinned, thick and sturdy. They have slam-shut pad­dle han­dle locks that fea­ture two-stage ro­tary latch­ing: a quick flick for clos­ing, or a harder shut for lock­ing, though ei­ther stage is stead­fastly se­cure.

In­side each door are sev­eral pock­ets for aerosol cans and small items; there are three shelves on each of the mid doors and four shelves on the taller rear­most locker.

And each door also has a damper, adding an­other level of qual­ity and op­er­a­tion.

With the Ci­typro repli­cat­ing the pow­der-coated body in a mir­ror­im­age cab­i­net de­sign on both sides, the lead­ing door on each side is the seal­ing door.

Each of the shelves can be tai­lored through a range of nine heights in the mid bins, or 14 heights in the rear­most lock­ers; or they can be re­moved com­pletely. For ex­am­ple in the rear cab­i­nets, they can be re­moved to take an oxy-acety­lene kit, with pro­vi­sion for vent­ing.

Ad­di­tional con­sid­er­a­tions in the body in­clude a cut-out for ac­cess to the spare wheel and fuel filler, and a small lower front door on the pas­sen­ger’s side al­lows ac­cess to the bat­tery and jump-start ter­mi­nals.

At the rear, anti-slip steps and dual grab-han­dles make three-point ac­cess easy, with grip-tape on the edge of che­quer­plate max­imis­ing foot trac­tion, al­low­ing safe and easy ac­cess to the bed’s stor­age area.

There are six tie-down points on the bed. Af­fixed to the sub­frame, each is rated at one tonne.

Rear gates are also lock­able in both the open and closed po­si­tions, with a top col­lar to help safety should some­thing work loose in the rear.

Ad­di­tion­ally, for­ward pro­tec­tion is in­te­grated into the body, with an­t­i­crash safety mesh built-in for rear cab pro­tec­tion.

Fin­ish­ing off the rear is a tow­bar rated to 2000kg, which has racked up its share of Air­points, be­ing man­u­fac­tured in NZ, sent to SBA Aus­tralia, and then shipped back again.

There’s also 2500kg of rated pay­load in the body. All up, tare weight is 2800kg.

The key op­tion is a Palfin­ger crane which in­cor­po­rates neatly into the rear, with sta­bilis­ers, and the ad­di­tion of a switch in the cab that ac­ti­vates the PTO.

There’s a range of ac­ces­sories. The non-crane unit pic­tured was fit­ted with lad­der racks which are bolted on to the struc­tural point of the unit.

An­drew says some cus­tomers bolt on awnings. The cab also fea­tures a sun­vi­sor and stone guard, and day­time run­ning lights, though An­drew says they can ei­ther be fac­tory op­tioned or af­ter­mar­ket retro-fit­ted.

Of course a key fea­ture of this model is not just the con­ve­nience fac­tor – An­drew quotes two to three days from start to fin­ish, de­pend­ing on the cus­tomi­sa­tion – but the size.

Be­cause it can be driven on a car li­cence, we head out for a quick drive and pho­tog­ra­phy, and are im­me­di­ately im­pressed by the re­sponse of the un­laden unit.

With a man­ual gear­box – an au­to­mated gear­box is an op­tion – there’s plenty of ur­gency from the 3.0-litre four-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel en­gine which de­vel­ops max­i­mum power of 110kw and peak torque of 375Nm

As we head down a dead-end road, the su­per tight 8.9-me­tre turn­ing cir­cle – bet­ter than not just any ute, but even a Toy­ota Corolla’s 10.8 me­tres – is a re­minder that this is a small and agile com­bi­na­tion.

Says An­drew: “it’ll fit into a stan­dard car park­ing spot, so you can pull up and park as a car would.”

With mod­els avail­able with or with­out a crane, the Isuzu/sba com­bi­na­tion of­fers a lot for some­thing that isn’t too large.

And it will suit a wide range of op­er­a­tors. “It could be for mo­bile me­chan­ics…coun­cils like them as they can store a lot of tools…lo­cal gov­ern­ment bod­ies, plumbers, drain­lay­ers and elec­tri­cal com­pa­nies.

“We have dif­fer­ent sizes, such as 4x4 crew cab mod­els of NPS 450, be­tween crane and non-crane ver­sions, and we are in the early de­vel­op­ment stages of a crew cab 4x2.”

All Black and green and gold don’t al­ways go to­gether, but with this New Zealand and Aussie com­bi­na­tion work­ing so well, it’s like Goldilocks has found the per­fect range of light trucks, that are just the right size.

Above: Isuzu’s 110kw/375nm tur­bod­iesel en­sures the ser­vice truck has plenty of power. Stan­dard truck can be driven on a car li­cence.

Be­low left to right : Doors all open – the SBA body pro­vides a lot of lock­able se­cure stor­age. The door-lock­ing sys­tem locks and un­locks the cab doors and the doors on the stor­age com­part­ments.

Above:two com­pa­nies fit the bod­ies. CAL Isuzu in Hamil­ton does the work for North Is­land cus­tomers, and Small­bone Isuzu in Ash­bur­ton and Ti­maru for South Is­land buy­ers. The blank can­vas, Isuzu cab/chas­sis ready to be fit­ted with SBA body. Be­low :

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