Isuzu shows feast of truck tech for farmers

Isuzu shows feast of truck tech for farmers

Isuzu Motors South Africa, which notched up its 10th consecutive year as the truck market leader in 2022, had a particularly interesting stand at Nampo 2023 Harvest Day. COLIN WINDELL jetted off to Bothaville to visit it.

Flying into the private airstrip at the annual Nampo Harvest Day Show near Bothaville in the Free State is always a treat. But, more than just avoiding the long drive from Johannesburg, it always engenders a sense of pride as you fly above perfectly ploughed fields, knowing good people are working extremely hard to ensure food security for the country.

From fairly humble beginnings as a grain-specific farmer’s market/agricultural show, Nampo has burgeoned into a sprawling entity covering acres of ground, complete with its own dedicated airstrip. It now offers the very latest in farming technology and solutions.

As Michael Corney, business manager for indirect sales for commercial vehicles at Isuzu, puts it: “It is so much more than just a farmer, a field, and a plough.” Indeed, Isuzu – as a regular exhibitor – offers a full range of transport solutions for the farming community: from the field to the final delivery.

“Unlike other motor-related shows where it is mostly eye-level brand-related, Nampo is application direct with face-to-face contact. In many ways it is like a massive retail operation,” says Corney.

Isuzu currently has 77 models in its truck line-up and has been the leading seller of commercial vehicles in South Africa for the past 10 years. Corney says this all boils down to being able to provide users with the solutions they need, backed up by the durability and reliability of the product along with a dedicated sales and service network around the country.

“Last year we already made upgrades to our product mix, with items such as airbags standard across the range. In the next couple of months we will be introducing the NPR400 CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) model for Gauteng. This is aimed at the food service sector,” Corney reveals. “We have a mix of Euro 2, Euro 3, and now Euro 5 fuel specification trucks, right from 2.5 tonnes upwards.”

Asked about the potential for electric trucks, Corney replies that Isuzu is engaging with customers on the subject, although the company feels South Africa is not really ready for that transition yet. “However, there is a longer-term plan and we have had a couple of test units in the country for a while,” he elaborates. “There is still a massive learning curve at all levels to make the move to electric. This is not only from the manufacturer and distributor side but goes down to the fleet owner, where running these vehicles will require a completely new process.”

On the other side of the Isuzu coin, the star of the show at Nampo was the new Isuzu D-MAX Arctic Trucks AT35. “The new Isuzu D-MAX Arctic Trucks AT35 carries this legacy into the seventh-generation D-MAX range that we launched last year,” says Kevin Fouche, department executive for planning and product management.

“The latest model asserts its unique positioning in the local bakkie segment with even bolder, more muscular styling that unashamedly points to the vehicle’s ability to tackle and conquer the toughest terrain with supreme confidence,” he continues. “As the range-topping model in the D-MAX line-up, the AT35 appeals to buyers who want to stand out from the crowd, as well as those aiming to exploit the vehicle’s adventurous nature and its remarkable off-road capabilities.”

The Struandale, Gqeberha plant is the only Isuzu facility in the world accredited by Arctic Trucks to produce the D-MAX AT35. Based on the range-topping D-MAX V-Cross 4×4, the AT35 is produced on the same production line as the standard D-MAX models.

Standing on 35-inch wheels with wide wheel arches, the Arctic looks tough, backed by some underbody tweaks including a specially developed suspension that raises ground clearance from 232 to 266 mm and increases vehicle height from 1 810 to 1 875 mm.

The AT35 is powered by Isuzu’s 3.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel that is used in the range-topping D-MAX models. The high-pressure common-rail diesel engine delivers a peak power output of 140 kW @ 3 600 r/min and
450 Nm of torque from 1 800 to 2 800 r/min. It is mated to the latest-specification six-speed automatic transmission. We’re sure that this beast of a bakkie is delighting the farmers who have already purchased one!

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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