Isuzu truck concepts include honeycombed ‘toaster on wheels’

Isuzu took to its hometown auto show to highlight its work in developing next-generation transport trucks, showing eight vehicles and four powertrain systems at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show. The most notable of the bunch are a pair of concepts: the FD-SI, a light-duty delivery truck designed around principles found in the insect kingdom, and the Elf EV, an all-electric version of its light-duty workhorse featuring a large-capacity battery with rapid-charging capability.

From a design perspective, the FD-SI will get all the attention — much of it probably of the bemused sort. In truth, it looks like a futuristic toaster on wheels, a rolling box structure fitted with honeycomb patterns on the side panels and a glass cab windshield that seems borrowed from a heavy-duty construction crane. It turns out the honeycomb motif is no mere design whim; Isuzu says its designers focused on the "group intelligence" of insects and tried to apply that principle to the delivery vehicle. So the honeycomb exterior is replicated in the cargo space as hexagonal tube-shaped boxes, which the automaker says is a good compromise between strength and storage space. Inside the cab, the driver controls and seat have all been centralized, with the steering wheel retractable, to encourage smoother operability and more comfortable living space for the driver. "We want to support the drivers, the front-line people of "Transport," with unconventional ideas," Isuzu says.

The Elf EV, on the other hand, is a zero-emissions, low-vibration delivery truck powered by a lithium-ion battery that'll take the vehicle at least 100 km, or 62 miles, on a single normal or fast-charge. It sports a 4x2, rear-wheel drive transmission with independent suspension in the front and leaf suspension in the rear.

Here's a quick list of Isuzu's other Tokyo offerings:

  • A 6x6 all-wheel-drive truck, featuring single wheels on all axles, built for rough terrain such as areas hit by major natural disasters.
  • 80th anniversary editions of the Giga heavy-duty truck, geared with a remote monitoring system to transmit vehicle data for remote analysis to ensure safe driving; the Forward medium-duty truck, which boasts 10 percent higher fuel economythan its 2015 version; and the internal-combustion version of the Elf light-duty truck, which is sold in the U.S. as the N-Series.
  • The Erga heavy-duty transit bus, which boasts improved exhaust-gas after-treatment and fuel economy, plus new LED headlights for better night visibility and longer life.
  • And a passenger SUV off-roader called the MU-X that is sold in Asia, Oceania, the Middle East and South Africa.

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