Elec­tric eCan­ter ex­cites in­dus­try

Fuso eCan­ters to 100km on fast recharge

Big Rigs - - TEST DRIVE - Kirstin Payne eCan­ter Test Drive

THE fast-evolv­ing ef­fi­ciency of bat­ter­ies and elec­tric en­gines are giv­ing elec­tric trucks rea­son­able range, and ever-faster recharge time, al­though of­ten run­ning be­hind diesel en­gines in most ways other than the big one – zero emis­sions.

Well, that was the case, un­til Big Rigs was given the op­por­tu­nity to test-drive the new ag­ile and sur­pris­ingly pow­er­ful Fuso eCan­ter at Mit­subishi Fuso’s Kit­sure­gawa Prov­ing Ground, lo­cated a few hours’ drive out­side of Tokyo.

While the con­cept Vi­sion ONE heavy was still out of reach on the day, Big Rigs was lucky enough to test both the eCan­ter the Can­ter for com­par­i­son.

The drive came off the back of the Daim­ler’s ded­i­cated elec­tric prod­uct brand launch, eFuso.

De­spite its shiny new per­sona, the Can­ter’s all-elec­tric sta­ble­mate has al­ready hit the roads in a few coun­tries.

As part of the eFuso push fur­ther into the elec­tric realm, the Mit­subishi Fuso Truck Cor­po­ra­tion plans to de­liver 500 units of the first gen­er­a­tion within the next two years.

Large-scale pro­duc­tion is sched­uled in 2019.

Ini­tially the units will be leased to large-scale de­liv­ery com­pa­nies such as Ja­pan’s Yam­ato and Amer­ica’s UPS.

While it’s yet to hit our shores, the Aussie me­dia beat their Ja­panese coun­ter­parts to the punch in the test-drive stakes.

Keep­ing in mind the eFuso is an ur­ban dis­tri­bu­tion ve­hi­cle, el­e­gance was not ex­pected.

Yet it was cer­tainly de­liv­ered dur­ing the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The stan­dard cab, like its diesel cousin, of­fers a close-to-the-ground driv­ing po­si­tion.

The cab lets the driver po­si­tion them­selves in the cen­tre of the ac­tion, low and with a good view of the road.

It is ideal for tight city spa­ces.

In­side, the point of dif­fer­ences be­tween the elec­tric gen­er­a­tion and the orig­i­nal were lim­ited to the dash, trad­ing in the tra­di­tional fuel dial for a bat­tery gauge.

Il­lus­trat­ing the level of charge in green to eco blue, and em­bed­ded in the dash that wrapped around the driver ever so slightly.

The quiet start-up was a shock, ab­sent of a growl or puff the eCan­ter punc­tu­ated the ac­cel­er­a­tion with an as­cend­ing buzz.

This set the scene for the drive.

Un­like most au­to­matic mod­els, the up-change could not be felt when the ve­hi­cle picked up speed.

De­spite its 7.5-tonne gross weight on the day, lag was also al­most non-ex­is­tent.

The ve­hi­cle, with­out los­ing any power, picked up pace in the same way you would ex­pect a small plane to, in a straight smooth in­cline.

The lithium ion bat­tery didn’t lag on the slope. With no risk of a mo­tor stall, it ne­go­ti­ated the in­cline, and stopped and started with ease with a smooth up­take.

Equally on the de­cline, the eCan­ter man­aged with lit­tle trou­ble, on disk brakes.

At the first at­tempt, the eCan­ter be­haves ex­actly as you would hope a light elec­tric round-towner would, and then some.

At this stage the model has a top speed of 80km/h, weigh­ing in at 7.49 tonnes with a max­i­mum torque of 390Nm.

We were un­able to test the bat­tery life on the day, how­ever mak­ers say the Fuso eCan­ter has a range of more than 100km and a load ca­pac­ity of three-and-a-half tonnes.

As one of the first out of the gates among the Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers with all-elec­tric trucks, Fuso has set a stan­dard.

The ver­sa­tile light truck has a heart of six high-volt­age lithium ion bat­tery packs with 420V and 13.8kW each.

Ac­cord­ing to the mak­ers, that makes for an op­er­at­ing cost sav­ing of 1000 eu­ros per 10,0000km.

The eCan­ter cer­tainly was the first glimpse at an ur­banised ef­fi­cient fu­ture that is un­doubt­edly on the hori­zon.

PHOTO: FUSO

FUSO: Big Rigs was given the op­por­tu­nity to test-drive the new ag­ile and sur­pris­ingly pow­er­ful Fuso eCan­ter.

PHOTO: FUSO

ELEC­TRIC: The eCan­ter can reach an 80% charge in 40 min­utes.

PHOTO: FUSO

The eCan­ter test-drive.

CHARGED: A glimpse at the eCan­ter’s in­side dis­play.

PHOTO: FUSO

ON THE GO: eCan­ter test drive.

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