Isuzu NLS 200 AWD proves versatile for council

Australia's harsh environment can issue a major logistical challenge to local governments when maintaining park, gardens and secondary roads – especially outside of metropolitan and regional population centres. Isuzu now offers a medium-sized truck model to make help tackle the challenge.

While two-wheel drive vehicles are well suited to sealed roads, quite often something extra is required to properly maintain parks and secondary roads. In many cases a fully-fledged off roader is overkill, but a normal two wheel drive vehicle would not have sufficient traction to handle the slippery unsealed roads or wet conditions at nature reserves and the like.

Isuzu Trucks provides something in between with its NLS 200 AWD model, and it's a product that has found favour with New South Wales' Port Macquarie – Hastings Council, which covers large tracts of rural land from Kempsey to Johns River and from Walcha to Wauchope. To help tackle the varied and at times difficult road conditions, the Council added two Isuzu NLS 200 all-wheel drive tipper models to its fleet, with a third on order.

Fleet Procurement Manager, Glenn Reece, has worked for the Council for the past 25 years and is responsible for deciding which work trucks the Council should purchase. According to Reece, the NLS 200s aren't the only Isuzus in the Council's fleet – the majority of the trucks purchased are from the Isuzu brand.

“Sixty-two trucks of our 67 truck fleet are Isuzu. They range from the NLS 200 to the Giga models and all serve a different purpose,” Glenn says. The first NLS 200 put to work at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is used across the municipality as a small tipper to transport general maintenance spoil and pipe components. It's predominantly used in water pipe laying projects.

“When we were in the market for a new truck we were seeking a small tipper that could handle rougher terrain to carry soil and pipe components. We usually lay water pipes off the main road network where it can get very wet and boggy at times, but the NLS takes it on with ease,” says Glenn.

The NLS 200's manual locking front hubs and rear limited slip differential make the truck well-suited not only on-road, but also for light off-road duties where traction is likely to be lost. Aiding performance on and off the bitumen is the vehicle's torsion bar independent front suspension, while the truck's single speed transfer case enables the driver to conveniently add front-wheel drive via a dashboard mounted switch with minimum of fuss.

Another important consideration for Council was OH&S, and the NLS 200 is well-credentialed here by providing the driver and passengers with a host of safety devices, including ABS brakes, ASR traction control, Hill Start Aid and driver and passenger airbags.

“Our truck operators are very happy with all-wheel drives. The extra traction that the truck provides was a large factor in choosing the NLS 200. We purchased the pipe-laying truck to replace a utility – the larger payload capacity and all-wheel drive ability attracted us,” Reece says.

The second Isuzu NLS 200 is engaged in the organisation's parks and gardens unit. “We use the new NLS 200 to carry green waste, top soil, fill wood chip and general spoil. This truck has replaced a one tonne utility and has also provided the added capacity for us to tow the out-front mower and trailer combination,” Reece said.

With the NLS 200 model available with a factory-fitted tipper body, the purchase of this truck added extra convenience, enabling Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to put the truck to work almost immediately, rather than waiting for the tipper body to be built.

“When we purchased the new truck the tipper body was already attached. The addition of the new tipper has allowed us to free-up a four tonne tipper for other work. This not only makes the parks and gardens unit independent, but also provides us with a vehicle narrow enough to park in the middle of the road for median strip maintenance. Our team can load straight onto the back of the truck without disrupting traffic. “To further assist our team, we added a small water tank, two tool boxes, a cover and flashing lights to the new NLS 200.” 

The Port Macquarie-Hastings Council entrusts much of its fleet maintenance and servicing to Isuzu dealership, Midcoast Trucks. “When we were purchasing our NLS 200s, we decided on the Isuzu brand because we don't have any issues with our other Isuzu trucks – the range of trucks suits our needs and the product is excellent as is the brand's service back-up. We do half of the servicing ourselves, with the other half completed by Midcoast Trucks,” Mr Reece said.

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