Utilimaster launches eco-friendly delivery van line, adds 60 jobs

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

More jobs are coming to Elkhart County. This time Wakarusa-based Utilimaster is upping its staffing as it launches a brand new, eco-friendly delivery truck line.

The vehicle, coined the "Reach", promises to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions for companies like FedEx and UPS.

Utilimaster plans to hire up to 30 people by the end of this year. Then come 2012, Utilimaster says it will tack on another 30 jobs. In total, 60 more employees, many of which will be full-time with full benefits.

Praised for its ease of entrance and large cargo space, Utilimaster says the Reach's truest benefits, sit below the hood.

"It will be a very green product, very focused on always lowering the operating costs. So when people look at it they say, 'wow I did not know I could reach for this and get everything done,” said Spartan Motors Inc. President John Sztykiel

Thanks to an aerodynamic structure and light-weight frame, the Reach van weighs 600 lbs. less than its competitors.

In turn, drivers will save 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel for every 20,000 miles on the road. That translates to $3,780 in savings per van with current diesel fuel costs.

"People often ask, ‘what's the key to helping our economy?’ It's jobs, jobs, jobs and Utilimaster and their partners understand this concept,” Rep. Joe Donnelly staffer Hodge Patel said.

Another benefit, just one Reach vehicle utilizes 53 parts suppliers. The company says 51 of which are American manufacturers, 29 are based in Indiana, and 25 come from companies here in Michiana.

"We in Wakarusa and here at Utilimaster are just thrilled to have the opportunity to grow our business, grow jobs and support customers better as we push forward into the future,” Utilimaster President John Forbes added.

Compared to other vans its size, the Reach reduces exhaust fumes by 85 percent. That in turn lowers carbon dioxide emissions by eleven tons per van, for every 20,000 miles.

The Reach is priced between $72,000 and $75,000. That's about $30,000 more than a comparable-sized Dodge Sprinter.

However, unlike the Sprinter, which typically runs for up to 200,000 miles, the Reach is guaranteed to last for 300,000 miles. Utilimaster also says the dramatic fuel savings on the Reach help to make up the cost difference.

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