Fuso’s vi­sion splen­did

tra­di­tion­ally throws up some of the cra­zi­est con­cepts and wack­i­est things on wheels you’re likely to see any­where, and 2017 was no ex­cep­tion with its fair share of the weird and won­der­ful. But, in Fuso’s case, it also showed that elec­tric trucks are now t

Deals on Wheels - - Contents - Steve Brooks re­ports

Fuso leads elec­tric truck revo­lu­tion

If evo­lu­tion is sim­ply de­vel­op­ment do­ing its thing, and revo­lu­tion is pos­si­bil­i­ties made real, where does Fuso’s re­mark­able ‘Vi­sion One’ elec­tric truck fit?

Per­son­ally, and at the dis­tinct risk of ac­quir­ing a butt full of splin­ters from sit­ting on the fence, I think it strad­dles both doc­trines.

On one hand, as de­vel­op­ment of elec­tric ve­hi­cles con­tin­ues at an un­re­lent­ing pace, evo­lu­tion is ev­ery­where as de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers around the world pur­sue more­ad­vanced bat­ter­ies and mo­torised pow­er­trains to fa­cil­i­tate the seem­ingly un­stop­pable march of elec­tri­cally pow­ered ve­hi­cles.

On the other, revo­lu­tion will only hap­pen when big cor­po­rates decide the time and the tech­nol­ogy are right for fac­tory pro­duc­tion of those ve­hi­cles and, most crit­i­cal of all, their ac­cep­tance and ap­pli­ca­tion by the con­sumer masses. Un­til very re­cently, and in the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle world par­tic­u­larly, it has been dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine if revo­lu­tion – that crit­i­cal mo­ment when re­al­ity out­guns po­ten­tial – is near or far.

Cer­tainly, over the past few years with ur­ban con­ges­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues driv­ing in­creas­ingly in­tense po­lit­i­cal and so­cial de­bate, there has been no end of press re­leases and de­tailed re­ports cit­ing a mul­ti­tude of en­gi­neer­ing ad­vances and cor­po­rate com­mit­ment to elec­tric ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment.

Still, and de­spite sev­eral widely pub­li­cised at­tempts with light-duty elec­tric trucks, no big­name com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle brand has ac­tu­ally stood up and given an ab­so­lute as­sur­ance that elec­tric trucks are a def­i­nite part of fu­ture

pro­duc­tion plans. That is un­til the re­cent Tokyo Mo­tor Show.

Sud­denly, un­ex­pect­edly, came the stark re­al­i­sa­tion that a revo­lu­tion was un­fold­ing. Right there and then on the Fuso stand.

NEW DAWN

For me, an in­di­vid­ual whose tol­er­ance for cor­po­rate con­nivance and ex­ec­u­tive ex­al­ta­tion has, over many decades, been whit­tled wafer­thin, it was a light­bulb mo­ment. A flicker of re­al­i­sa­tion that, “Yep, I was there when elec­tric trucks stepped into the real world.”

Sure, Fuso wasn’t alone in the pre­sen­ta­tion of elec­tric ve­hi­cles at Tokyo. Nu­mer­ous car mak­ers were show­cas­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles of one sort or an­other, al­ready avail­able to buy­ers in many mar­kets around the world.

But Fuso was some­thing else. This was about trucks. This was the Ja­panese af­fil­i­ate of Daim­ler Trucks, the world’s biggest com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle pro­ducer, not only show­cas­ing two elec­tric truck models but an­nounc­ing the birth of a new brand, ded­i­cated en­tirely to the de­sign, de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion of elec­tric trucks.

The new brand is E-Fuso. And rightly so, given Daim­ler’s nu­mer­ous state­ments over the past few years con­firm­ing Fuso’s place as core provider of the cor­po­ra­tion’s light truck tech­nol­ogy. So make no mis­take, in the con­text of Daim­ler’s global light truck am­bi­tions, E-Fuso is the fu­ture un­furled.

Vi­tally, Fuso top ex­ec­u­tives in­clud­ing Daim­ler Trucks Asia chief Marc Llis­tosella and sales boss Michael Kam­per were also quick to re­it­er­ate the an­nounce­ment made a few weeks ear­lier in New York that Fuso is the world’s first com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer to start se­ries pro­duc­tion of an all-elec­tric light-duty truck.

That truck is the eCan­ter, the elec­tri­cally driven ver­sion of Fuso’s long-serv­ing light com­mer­cial, built in left-hand drive form at Daim­ler’s Tra­m­a­gal plant in Por­tu­gal and right-hand drive at the Kawasaki fac­tory out­side Tokyo.

What’s more, in some­thing of a coup for a small group of Aus­tralian truck writ­ers vis­it­ing the show, we would be among the first re­porters in the world to be given stints be­hind the wheel of the elec­tric Can­ter.

UR­BAN FO­CUS

Mean­while, back on the Fuso stand in Tokyo, both the eCan­ter and a truly rev­o­lu­tion­ary truck we would soon enough come to know as ‘Vi­sion One’ were se­creted un­der big black sheets, wait­ing for the mo­ment in front of a big crowd of in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ists when Marc Llis­tosella would un­veil the trucks along with E-Fuso’s bold plans for to­day and to­mor­row.

For­tu­nately, our lit­tle group didn’t have to wait quite that long. In a back­room meet­ing be­fore the of­fi­cial un­veil­ing, a highly mo­ti­vated Marc Llis­tosella ex­plained in no un­cer­tain terms that Fuso’s com­mit­ment to the de­vel­op­ment and

pro­duc­tion of ef­fi­cient, prac­ti­cal elec­tric trucks is ab­so­lute and stems di­rect from the high­est lofts of the Daim­ler Trucks tree.

Mo­ments ear­lier, the sight of Lin­fox chair­man Peter Fox and na­tional equip­ment man­ager

Ray Gam­ble on the Fuso stand cer­tainly didn’t go un­no­ticed, with an ob­vi­ously en­thused Fox ut­ter­ing: “This could be in­ter­est­ing, Brooksy.” In­deed it could, Foxy!

Like­wise, Llis­tosella will­ingly con­firmed that Peter Fox is one of a quickly grow­ing num­ber of ma­jor fleet op­er­a­tors around the world show­ing im­mense in­ter­est in Fuso’s elec­tric truck de­vel­op­ments, due in no small way to Daim­ler’s pub­lic com­mit­ment to start pro­duc­tion.

For now, though, it’s all about demon­strat­ing Fuso’s elec­tric truck tech­nol­ogy and, in ef­fect, putting the new E-Fuso brand’s money where its mouth is. As things stand at the mo­ment, elec­tric trucks cer­tainly aren’t for ev­ery­one or ev­ery­where, and our part of the world is per­haps well down the pri­or­ity list when it comes to targeted high-vol­ume mar­kets. Or is it?

Ac­cord­ing to Llis­tosella, “ur­ban­i­sa­tion is the key driver for elec­tri­fi­ca­tion in trucks”, which ba­si­cally as­serts that any ma­jor city where con­ges­tion and pol­lu­tion are chok­ing the lives and liveli­hoods of mil­lions of peo­ple is an ideal en­vi­ron­ment for elec­tric trucks, no­tably in lo­cal de­liv­ery dis­tri­bu­tion roles.

“Emis­sions, noise and con­ges­tion are big is­sues,” he con­tin­ued, “and we will see many in­tru­sions for trucks re­gard­ing ac­cess to ma­jor cities. But rather than fight these things, we will de­liver so­lu­tions.”

In ob­vi­ous co-op­er­a­tion with Daim­ler’s vast tech­ni­cal re­sources, Fuso has been work­ing on de­vel­op­ment of an elec­tri­cally driven Can­ter since 2010. Con­se­quently, as Llis­tosella was keen to ex­plain, the launch of eCan­ter in New York was the cul­mi­na­tion of a project to turn po­ten­tial into com­mer­cial fact, set­ting the path for lo­cal de­liv­ery op­er­a­tions far into the fu­ture.

“In times when ev­ery­body is talk­ing about elec­tric trucks, we are the first to ac­tu­ally com­mer­cialise a se­ries-pro­duced all-elec­tric truck,” he said in a re­cent press state­ment. “It of­fers an at­trac­tive and cost-ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive to com­bus­tion en­gines and makes elec­tric trucks key to the fu­ture of in­ner-city dis­tri­bu­tion.”

As a Fuso state­ment fur­ther ex­plains, the all-elec­tric light-duty truck is an an­swer to the pub­lic’s need for a zero-emis­sion, zero-noise truck for in­ner-city dis­tri­bu­tion. Zero emis­sions and zero noise are “sim­ply not achiev­able with a com­bus­tion en­gine”, Llis­tosella re­marked.

At its cur­rent level of de­vel­op­ment, eCan­ter has a range of be­tween 100 and 120km and pay­load ca­pac­ity up to 3.5 tonnes on a gross ve­hi­cle weight rat­ing of 7.5 tonnes. Power is de­rived from six high-volt­age lithium-ion bat­tery packs with 420 volts and 13.8kWh each.

Sud­denly, un­ex­pect­edly, came the stark re­al­i­sa­tion that a revo­lu­tion was un­fold­ing. Right there and then on the Fuso stand.

Crit­i­cally, Fuso in­sists that com­pared to its diesel equiv­a­lent, Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence shows eCan­ter saves up to 1000 Euro (about A$1500) in op­er­at­ing costs ev­ery 10,000km.

Still, it’s early days, and eCan­ter’s mod­est range ca­pa­bil­ity will un­doubt­edly limit broad sales ap­peal. That, of course, will change as ad­vances in both bat­tery and drive sys­tems – mo­torised wheel ends, for ex­am­ple – con­tinue to move fre­net­i­cally for­ward.

In the mean­time, Fuso says it in­tends to de­liver a rel­a­tively mod­est 500 eCan­ters to cus­tomers in the US, Europe and Ja­pan over the next two years. How­ever, larger-scale pro­duc­tion is in­tended to start in 2019 but, as yet, vol­ume fore­casts are un­known or, more to the point, un­stated.

VI­SION­ARY

Im­por­tant as it was, eCan­ter’s launch in New York paled in com­par­i­son to a press state­ment made at the Tokyo Mo­tor Show co­in­cid­ing with the launch of the E-Fuso brand.

“Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Cor­po­ra­tion,” the state­ment ex­claimed, “will elec­trify its com­plete range of trucks and buses in up­com­ing years.” That’s right, its com­plete range of trucks and buses, backed by “substantial in­vest­ments as well as ac­cess to the Daim­ler net­work of bat­tery and charg­ing tech­nol­ogy” and the un­equiv­o­cal in­ten­tion to make E-Fuso the global fron­trun­ner in elec­tric trucks.

The only in­di­ca­tion of tim­ing was that Fuso will “bring an elec­tric heavy-duty truck onto the streets within the next four to five years”.

The pre­cur­sor of that fu­ture model was the truck grandly un­veiled by Llis­tosella and named ‘Vi­sion One’.

While the press state­ment la­bels it “a con­cept all-elec­tric heavy-duty truck”, an in­sis­tent Llis­tosella said Vi­sion One has pro­gressed well beyond the con­cept stage and is now far down the path to be­com­ing a pro­duc­tion unit.

“We are go­ing for it,” he said earnestly, leav­ing no doubt of an in­ten­tion to see this truck, or at least a good por­tion of it, be­come a mar­ket re­al­ity. “With the un­veil­ing of Vi­sion One, our out­look on a fea­si­ble all-elec­tric heavy-duty truck, we again demon­strate we are the fron­trun­ner in the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles.”

Ac­cord­ingly, the ul­ti­mate goal in the years ahead is to of­fer an elec­tri­cally pow­ered al­ter­na­tive to all models in the Fuso truck and bus range. Im­por­tantly, Fuso isn’t talk­ing about decades ahead but more like four or five years from now, such is the pace of progress on elec­tri­fi­ca­tion.

Of course, the def­i­ni­tion of Ja­panese heavy duty is sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent to Aus­tralian heavy duty, yet with a gross ve­hi­cle weight rat­ing of 23.26 tonnes, Vi­sion One is at least a sig­nif­i­cant step up the weight range and, ac­cord­ing to Fuso, “marks the top end of the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion process the com­pany will move to­wards in up­com­ing years”.

At this point in de­vel­op­ment, the sleek cab-over has a pay­load ca­pac­ity of 11.1 tonnes which,

Fuso says, is only 1.8 tonnes less than a diesel coun­ter­part. Most ap­peal­ing of all, par­tic­u­larly for a truck aimed squarely at re­gional in­tra-city dis­tri­bu­tion work, is a range up to 350km on a sin­gle charge. And pre­dictably per­haps, ad­vanced safety sys­tems are part and par­cel of the to­tal pack­age.

With the cov­ers fi­nally com­ing off in front of a large me­dia au­di­ence, there was cer­tainly much about Vi­sion One to tempt the in­ter­est of any truck nut. On the in­side, ar­guably the only thing re­motely nor­mal was a round steer­ing wheel, but per­haps most in­trigu­ing of all were the mir­rors. On the out­side, there are none. In­stead, tiny cam­eras on the outer skin of the truck re­lay im­ages onto colour screens on the in­side of the A-pil­lars, pro­vid­ing an ex­cep­tion­ally good view down both sides.

As Llis­tosella also pointed out, the ex­tra­or­di­nary torque and ac­cel­er­a­tion of elec­tric power has

The truly big gains … came from a re­designed mount­ing of the mixer bowl to the chas­sis.

cre­ated the need for con­sid­er­able re­search in tyre types and tread pat­terns. The show truck, for in­stance, sported low-pro­file Bridge­stones and a tread pat­tern rem­i­nis­cent of wet weather rac­ing tyres rather than a ‘round-town de­liv­ery truck.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral sources, the truck would be sent after the show to Fuso’s Kit­sure­gawa proving ground for ex­ten­sive test­ing. We were headed there, too, but ours would be a brief visit long be­fore the truck’s ar­rival.

PER­TI­NENT QUES­TIONS

Any­way, back in the meet­ing room, an up­beat Llis­tosella was more than happy to take ques­tions. For me, there were two crit­i­cal points.

First, surely charg­ing tech­nol­ogy and the avail­abil­ity of charg­ing points are the de­ter­min­ing fac­tors for the cur­rent and fu­ture up­take of elec­tric trucks? Sec­ond, doesn’t Daim­ler’s in­vest­ment and ob­vi­ous faith in the fu­ture for elec­tric trucks some­what di­min­ish the bil­lions of dol­lars spent on de­vel­op­ment of HDEP, its global heavy-duty diesel en­gine plat­form?

Ob­vi­ously ready for the first ques­tion and seem­ingly un­trou­bled by the sec­ond, the Fuso chief con­ceded the wide avail­abil­ity of charg­ing points will take a co-op­er­a­tive ef­fort by many en­ti­ties. These in­clude, but are cer­tainly not lim­ited to, the co-op­er­a­tive in­volve­ment of com­peti­tors with elec­tric truck pro­grams, gov­ern­ments, en­ergy providers, and fuel com­pa­nies with their es­tab­lished in­fra­struc­ture and sub­se­quent po­ten­tial to cre­ate in­come from fuel sta­tions op­er­at­ing as en­ergy stor­age sites.

In Llis­tosella’s em­phatic view, de­mand and com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity are al­ready driv­ing the fu­ture. “Con­cepts are chang­ing and the par­a­digms of the past are go­ing,” he said.

Again, the world’s biggest cities are al­ready look­ing to counter the so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of in­tense con­ges­tion, with elec­tric lo­cal de­liv­ery trucks firmly on the radar of many city plan­ners. The pop­u­la­tion of the greater Tokyo re­gion, for in­stance, is now es­ti­mated above 38 mil­lion and there’s noth­ing co­in­ci­den­tal about the city now be­ing equipped with about 7200 charg­ing points for elec­tric trucks.

For its part, Daim­ler has al­ready in­vested heav­ily in the sup­port sys­tems for what it calls ‘elec­tric mo­bil­ity’, cre­at­ing mul­ti­ple syn­er­gies be­tween its pas­sen­ger car and truck di­vi­sions.

Deutsche Ac­cu­mo­tive, for ex­am­ple, is a Daim­ler sub­sidiary pro­vid­ing the bat­ter­ies for E-Fuso trucks, while Mercedes-Benz En­ergy spe­cialises in sta­tion­ary en­ergy stor­age sys­tems and in­creas­ing the life­cy­cle of bat­ter­ies. Daim­ler also has stakes in Charge­Point, said to be the world’s largest provider of charg­ing sta­tions and in­fra­struc­ture. Then there’s its con­nec­tion to StoreDot, an Israeli start-up com­pany de­vel­op­ing fast-charg­ing bat­tery tech­nol­ogy.

As for any diminu­tion of heavy-duty diesel en­gines, specif­i­cally Daim­ler’s HDEP range, it sim­ply won’t hap­pen ac­cord­ing to Llis­tosella. At least, not for many decades yet.

The sim­ple fact is that the mod­ern heavy­duty diesel en­gine re­mains un­beat­able for the ef­fi­cient move­ment of heavy ton­nages over long dis­tances by road. How­ever, for light and medium-duty trucks run­ning ‘round-town or short hops be­tween re­gional cen­tres, it’s an en­tirely dif­fer­ent story.

TRACK WORK

Less than an hour in a bul­let train, then an easy drive through pretty ru­ral precincts, Fuso’s Kit­sure­gawa proving ground sits serenely in the Ja­panese coun­try­side about 150km north of Tokyo. Yet de­spite the gen­uine cour­tesy and po­lite­ness of the en­gi­neers and driv­ers who work here, there’s no es­cap­ing the im­pres­sion that vis­i­tors are tol­er­ated rather than sought.

This is se­ri­ous, se­cre­tive work, and if you want to ask se­ri­ous ques­tions, ask some­place else be­cause you’ll get no re­sponse here. Just get in, drive what you’re al­lowed to drive, then get out.

In times when ev­ery­body is talk­ing about elec­tric trucks, we are the first to ac­tu­ally com­mer­cialise a se­ries pro­duced all-elec­tric truck.

By the way, leave your cam­eras on the bus. Even so, it’s amaz­ing what the eye picks up. Com­peti­tor models tucked be­hind build­ings, trucks con­cealed un­der tarps, oth­ers in striped cam­ou­flage, and some just ham­mer­ing around a track in full view, like one of Mercedes-Benz’s cur­rent mid-range models re­mind­ing ev­ery­one that Fuso is nowa­days part of a very large global out­fit.

Noth­ing, how­ever, had the ap­peal of a non­de­script lit­tle white truck sit­ting midst a line-up of light and heavy-duty demo models on a test pad. The truck, of course, was an eCan­ter, but we wouldn’t have it for long. At best, a cou­ple of short laps each.

Now, I’ll be blunt. Driv­ing lit­tle trucks es­sen­tially de­signed for lo­cal de­liv­ery work nor­mally holds all the at­trac­tion of warm beer gone flat. But this time I didn’t know what to ex­pect. I’d never driven an all-elec­tric truck be­fore, so it’s fair to say there was a good deal of an­tic­i­pa­tion.

Gross weight was said to be more than seven tonnes and, well, with­out putting too fine a point on it, this thing sur­prised and im­pressed in equal mea­sure. It drives like noth­ing else and the sim­plic­ity is ex­tra­or­di­nary. Just turn the key, put your foot on the throt­tle and go. And go it does. Quickly. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is phe­nom­e­nal as full torque comes on stream in an in­stant.

What’s more, there’s no noise other than soft whines from the tyres and the driv­e­line. The driv­e­line is still me­chan­i­cal but give tech­nol­ogy a lit­tle time and it’s al­most cer­tain mo­torised wheel ends will re­place diff and drive­shaft, re­duc­ing noise to noth­ing more than a whis­per.

Again, sim­plic­ity of the pack­age is re­mark­able, and one of the few gauges on the dash is an econ­omy me­ter show­ing a green band for the best preser­va­tion of bat­tery life to max­imise driv­ing range. But once you’ve felt the surge at take-off, the temp­ta­tion is strong to just keep the foot buried.

The short hill-climb sec­tion of the track had

8, 10 and 12 per cent grades and, from a com­plete stop, the eCan­ter lifted off with­out fuss or vi­bra­tion on the steep­est pinch. Easy! Max­i­mum grade­abil­ity ac­cord­ing to Fuso’s fig­ures is 20 per cent. Right now, there’s not much more to say other than ex­press the firm be­lief that eCan­ter is the thin edge of an en­tirely new era in truck tech­nol­ogy.

For its part, by mak­ing the Fuso eCan­ter a pro­duc­tion re­al­ity and giv­ing elec­tric trucks their own brand­ing, Daim­ler Trucks has not only con­firmed its be­lief in elec­tric trucks but, equally, its in­ten­tion to be the com­mer­cial leader.

The sim­ple fact, how­ever, is that with­out this level of com­mit­ment from a global au­to­mo­tive gi­ant, it’s un­likely any tech­nol­ogy will evolve much past the con­cept stage.

Of course, max­i­mum driv­ing range of around 100km is for now eCan­ter’s lim­it­ing fea­ture. But when this pushes out to, say, 250 or 300km – as it most surely will due to the pace of de­vel­op­ments in elec­tric propul­sion – a whole new ap­pre­ci­a­tion will come into play.

Like­wise, recharg­ing sys­tems and in­fra­struc­ture are key el­e­ments that will take time and com­mit­ment from many in­sti­tu­tions to reach sat­is­fac­tory lev­els. How­ever, given the economies of scale in the den­sity of the world’s great cities, de­mand will drive in­vest­ment. As it al­ways does.

Again, elec­tric trucks aren’t for ev­ery­one or ev­ery­where, though the ben­e­fits are un­de­ni­able for the crowded mega-cities of the world.

Fi­nally, I’ve seen a lot of evo­lu­tion in truck de­sign over many years but revo­lu­tion can be counted on one hand. Those that im­me­di­ately come to mind were both launched more than 30 years ago: Ken­worth’s orig­i­nal T600, which took aero­dy­nam­ics to an en­tirely new level in con­ven­tional truck de­sign, and Detroit’s Se­ries 60, which made elec­tron­ics an in­te­gral part of the heavy-duty diesel en­gine plat­form for the first time.

For all their merit, though, it took time to re­alise what im­pact they would have on fu­ture de­vel­op­ment. In Tokyo, it took no time at all.

Cum­mins au­tho­rised dealer, the en­gine builder’s high­est dealer sta­tus.

With Cum­mins en­gines be­ing the pre­dom­i­nant en­gine provider for Ken­worth trucks, the re­la­tion­ship is es­sen­tial.

Gen­eral man­ager Brad Mot­teram says it’s about lever­ag­ing that re­la­tion­ship for the ben­e­fit of the customer. “As a Pac­car dealer, we need to pro­vide in­dus­try-lead­ing sup­port for Cum­mins en­gines. Cum­mins re­lies on us to in­vest in train­ing, tool­ing and di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment to achieve that level of sup­port. We lever­age each other’s sup­port net­work. There are count­less ben­e­fits from that part­ner­ship.”

COM­MIT­MENT TO SER­VICE

The deal­er­ship em­ploys more than 40 work­shop staff over two shifts. This ar­range­ment al­lows gen­er­ous open­ing hours of 8am-11pm Mon­day to Fri­day, and 8am-6pm Satur­day. The after-hours of­fer­ing is pop­u­lar among op­er­a­tors who can’t af­ford – ei­ther fi­nan­cially or prac­ti­cally - to have their trucks off the road dur­ing busi­ness hours.

In ad­di­tion, Pac­car As­sist break­down sup­port means any Ken­worth or DAF truck that breaks down any­where in the coun­try will get at­tended to by a lo­cal tech­ni­cian, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One phone num­ber puts cus­tomers in touch with a call centre that co­or­di­nates dis­patch of a tech­ni­cian to at­tend the break­down.

“The prod­uct we of­fer and the sup­port net­work we have around the coun­try are com­pelling rea­sons why cus­tomers chose us,” Mot­teram says.

CUS­TOM SO­LU­TIONS

Ken­worth has long been known for of­fer­ing cus­tom-en­gi­neered prod­ucts to suit the harsh Aus­tralian en­vi­ron­ment.

The ap­pli­ca­tion, loads, roads and the high am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures all com­bine to make it a unique op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

New trucks sold at Ken­worth DAF Mel­bourne are of­ten cus­tomised for spe­cific con­di­tions at the re­quest of op­er­a­tors, then re­turn to the deal­er­ship to live a new life as a used truck. The cus­tom mod­i­fi­ca­tions then be­come some­one else’s ben­e­fit.

One thing I know is how im­por­tant it is to have a na­tion­wide sup­port net­work to back our prod­ucts up.

Kinghorn says it’s not un­usual to see the same truck a num­ber of times. “Ken­worths are renowned for hav­ing mul­ti­ple lives,” he notes.

Der­rimut re­flects a grow­ing trend to put ma­jor new and used truck deal­er­ships un­der one roof, and the ad­van­tages are plain to see. It means one point of con­tact for cus­tomers, and an on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship with a dealer that of­fers a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts, man­aged un­der ded­i­cated teams.

PACLEASE TAKES OFF

Since 2015, Pac­car has of­fered a prod­uct – PacLease – that pro­vides of­fer­ings to op­er­a­tors, ei­ther on a short-term rental ba­sis or as a longterm lease.

“It’s be­com­ing very pop­u­lar in the in­dus­try,” says Mot­teram. “We also of­fer fully main­tained leases.”

The com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion means cus­tomers pay a monthly fee which cov­ers truck re­pay­ments, main­te­nance and re­pairs for the du­ra­tion of the lease term. Trucks can be ser­viced at any Pac­car dealer.

“It gives peace of mind,” Kinghorn says. “You know you won’t have any sur­prises and that your re­pair and main­te­nance is cov­ered. It makes it eas­ier to bud­get for a job.”

For op­er­a­tors re­quir­ing ex­tra trucks to man­age sea­sonal peaks, the short-term rental op­tion is ideal. All trucks are new, and in time get ab­sorbed into the used truck range.

A COM­PRE­HEN­SIVE FA­CIL­ITY

Step in­side Ken­worth DAF Mel­bourne and the first thing you see is the parts su­per­mar­ket. The ad­join­ing 7000-square-foot parts ware­house holds more than 14,000 parts lines.

A new parts store has also opened up in Gee­long and will be fol­lowed shortly by one in Bal­larat; all part of the com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing im­proved customer sup­port.

The large full-ser­vice work­shop backs onto the build­ing and pro­vides an airy and spa­cious work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. It’s a hub of ac­tiv­ity with tech­ni­cians toil­ing away ready­ing trucks for de­liv­ery. The scale of the op­er­a­tion is ap­par­ent out in the yard, where lines of trucks await pick-up or ser­vic­ing. About 400 trucks a year are de­liv­ered, and the used truck di­vi­sion usu­ally holds more than 40 trucks.

But ask Kinghorn what makes a deal­er­ship great and he’ll tell you it’s the peo­ple.

“Our peo­ple are our biggest as­set. We’re all about get­ting a cus­tom en­gi­neered prod­uct and then hav­ing the na­tion­wide sup­port net­work to back it up. You can’t do that with­out the right peo­ple,” he says.

We’re all about get­ting a cus­tom en­gi­neered prod­uct and then hav­ing the na­tion­wide sup­port net­work to back it up.

You can’t do that with­out the right peo­ple.

2009 Fuso FV500. FV51J 12.9L, turbo/IC, 345hp, 13 Spd Ea­ton Fuller R/R, AC • NSW 02 6171 3494

2007 Fuso Fighter. 12 pal­let cur­tain­sider, 270hp, Ea­ton 9 spd syn­chro­mesh • VIC 03 8373 7112

Above: Fuso eCan­ter. For the first time, an elec­tric truck is in pro­duc­tion

2016 Fuso Fighter 1424. Beaver­tail tray body, 7.3 x 2.5m, 240hp, 5 yr war­ranty • VIC 03 8373 7482

2010 Fuso Fighter FK600. 10 pal­let pan­tech, 235hp turbo IC, 6 spd man • NSW 02 8279 7048

2015 Fuso Fighter 1227. 270hp turbo diesel, 6 spd man, 45m3 pan­tech • NSW 02 6171 3634

Above left: The mes­sage is elec­tric. Daim­ler Trucks Asia chief Marc Llis­tosella (right) and sales boss Michael Kam­per

Above right: Birth of a brand. E-Fuso is ded­i­cated en­tirely to the de­sign, de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion of elec­tric trucks

Above: Vi­sion­ary. On the in­side of Fuso’s Vi­sion One. The tech­nol­ogy is re­mark­able, even down to mir­ror screens mounted on the in­side

Above left: True be­liever. Daim­ler Trucks Asia supremo Marc Llis­tosella fronts in­ter­na­tional me­dia at the launch of E-Fuso and Vi­sion One Above right: Past and present – eCan­ter test truck at Fuso’s Kit­sure­gawa proving ground. In the back­ground is a stan­dard diesel Can­ter. The dif­fer­ence is dra­matic

Above left: Charge! Tokyo al­ready has about 7200 charge points for elec­tric trucks Above right: Space saver. Elec­tric mo­tor leaves plenty of room un­der Can­ter cab

Above: Quick and quiet. On-road performance of eCan­ter is amaz­ing but driv­ing range from cur­rent bat­tery packs is a lim­it­ing fac­tor. That will change, Fuso says

Above: The deal­er­ship spe­cialises in the sale of new Ken­worth and DAF trucks

Above: PacLease is a com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion that means cus­tomers pay a monthly fee which cov­ers truck re­pay­ments, main­te­nance and re­pairs for the du­ra­tion of the lease term

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