Fuso takes its strength from Daimler Group to refine its presence and increase sales.
No longer can you presume that all things Japanese are equal and that all trucks that come from the four major Japanese manufacturers are similar in appearance, technology and performance.
With the influence of global parenthood and an increasing commonality of the engine and driveline componentry within each of those individual truck makers, about the only thing you can be sure of is that they all come painted in white.
Japanese diesel engine technology has, in the past, relied on large cubic capacity and relatively low-key engine technology. Turbocharging changed the game plan, and in recent years the alliances forged to bring European truck makers into closer cooperation with those of Japan has totally changed the engine characteristics of the typical Japanese truck product.
Just as Volvo now links ever closer with Japanese truck maker UD, Mitsubishi Fuso is benefiting from a range of engines available from two sources on different continents. The options ahead for Fuso include small capacity diesels with origins from Mercedes-Benz in Germany, and large capacity diesels from Detroit Diesel in North America.
Japanese truck makers have traditionally missed opportunities in high horsepower applications, simply because of a lack of suitable engine availability. Now, with the globalisation of the Heavy-Duty Engine Programme (HDEP) by Detroit Diesel, we are starting to see the adoption of the HDEP engine range, with local manufacturing facilities for Fuso established at Kawasaki, for Mercedes-Benz at Wurth, and for the North American market through Detroit Diesel at Redford, Michigan.
Amongst all this technology upgrade, Mitsubishi Fuso is also refining its existing and future product range, and during the second half of 2011 will roll out its most comprehensive and formidable truck range ever.
As well as having been given a styling makeover, there are now new model names to identify the latest ADR80/03 models. Based around GVM and HP, the new names will see the Canter 2.0t (4500 kg /150 hp) renamed as the Canter 515, and the Fighter 6.0 (10,400 kg /240 hp) known in future as the Fighter 1024
The Canter range will grow from 17 models to 38 models, and this should help to increase Fuso’s penetration into segments of the market previously not covered by their ADR80/02 model range. Also, for the first time, customers will have the choice of a five-speed manual, or Fuso’s new and exclusive DUONIC AMT, in most models across the range.
Car licence holders are still targeted by the availability of Canter models rated at under 4,500 kg GVM, or versions with higher ratings that are available downrated to this level.
As a first for Fuso, the Canter range will actually start with a GVM of 3,500 kg. This is a unique GVM weight range offering amongst the Japanese light truck makers, and seeks to attract traditional ute buyers that might like to option up to something more substantial.
There are seven narrow cab models in the 2011 range, and the 4,500 kg GVM sector offers the availability of cab-chassis and factory tipper form, as well as a new narrow crew cab – itself another unique option only available from Fuso.
Those concerned with reducing fuel consumption should be pretty happy with the new Fuso 3.0-litre diesel that starts off in the Canter range and already meets the 2015 Japanese fuel economy standard.
Despite being a smaller capacity engine than its predecessor, the new engine delivers the same power and provides maximum torque from 1450 rpm to 2800 rpm.
Featuring a flat torque curve, this new Enhanced Environmentally Friendly engine (EEV) exceeds the Euro 5 emission requirements – reducing smoke output by 70 percent, lowering hydrocarbon emissions by 46 percent in steady state cycles (highway / constant speed), lowering Particulate Matter (PM) by 33 percent, and reducing carbon monoxide (CO) in transient cycles (metro stop/start) by 25 percent.
Backing up the new EEV 3.0-litre diesel is the Duonic AMT (Automated Manual Transmission), claimed by Fuso to be superior to any other AMT. This is a dual-clutch transmission, offering faster ratio changes than a conventional AMT, and now increasing in popularity in the passenger car sector.
With this new Canter range you can see the influence being exerted by European safety standards in areas such as braking efficiency, with the incorporation of dual-calliper front and single-calliper rear disc brakes with ABS and EBD (Electronic Braking Distribution), a big improvement over the older style drum brakes. There’s also an exhaust brake for good measure.
All-wheel-drive remains an option on both the 4.5 tonnes and 6.5 tonnes GVM Canter model ranges.
Cabovers used to come with a bouncy ride, as part of the standard specification, but the new Canter, with its independent front suspension design on GVMs ranging from
3500 – 6000 kg, should make this poor ride-comfort just a memory.
Drivers who reckon the bouncy bits keep them awake can still relive the dream by driving the tipper version, which still maintains leaf springs on the front axle, probably to counter the common practice of overloading that’s a feature of local landscapers and nurserymen. Even then, there are improvements these days, thanks to a standard fitment of a driver’s suspension seat.
The wet clutch technology of the Duonic AMT follows similar transmission designs that are now available in the passenger car segment of companies such as Volkswagen. The dual-clutch system pre-selects the next gear with virtually no torque interruption when shifting from one gear to the next. This means no power lag and a seamless transition between gears. There’s also a “park” function, which mechanically locks the transmission for improved safety when the vehicle is stationary.
Service and maintenance requirements have also come under scrutiny, and both the new Canter range and the Fighter models in the next weight range have their service intervals now increased to 30,000 km periods.
The hybrid market in Australia has largely been led by Hino and Fuso, with the former adding hybrid versions to high profile fleets such as TNT, and Fuso penetrating fleets such as the pick-up and delivery side of Star Track Express, the joint venture owned by Qantas and Australia Post.
Star Track Express added 25 Canter Eco-Hybrids to their fleet around 12 months ago, and with a “black box” fitted to record vehicle and driving style parameters, there’s now some solid evidence to support their introduction. The recorded data includes fuel economy, vehicle speed, gear selection, hybrid assistance, stopping time etc.
The Star Track Express Eco-Hybrid consistently achieved fuel savings above 30 percent, when compared to the diesel only vehicle in the same driving conditions and application. The average fuel saving, after one quarter of testing, averaged 34.1 percent, equating to a reduction of 6.2 tonnes of CO2 per year, per vehicle. With over 25 vehicles, Star Track Express can reduce their carbon emissions by over 150 tonnes each year.
The Canter Eco Hybrid is fitted with a 3.0-litre, DOHC, 16-valve intercooled turbo-diesel engine that produces 92 kW at 3200 rpm with peak torque of 294 Nm rated at 1,700 rpm. It incorporates a diesel particulate filter for trapping PMs, and a high precision exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system for reducing NOx.
Joined to the diesel engine is an ultra-slim electric motor/generator (35 kW), a high performance Lithium (Li)-ion battery, and the INOMAT-II automated mechanical transmission.
The Canter Eco Hybrid features a parallel hybrid system. That means power to drive the vehicle comes from the vehicle’s electric motor, the diesel engine, or both. Fuel efficiency and engine exhaust emissions reduction are achieved by using them singly, or in combination with each other according to driving conditions.
The electric motor is used to drive the vehicle when starting off. During hard acceleration, both the diesel engine and electric motor/generator power the vehicle. When cruising, the vehicle is driven by the diesel engine only, like a conventional vehicle. When slowing down or braking, the electric motor/generator functions as a generator to convert braking energy (normally lost as heat) into electric energy and stores it in the Lithium (Li)-ion battery. The INOMAT-II transmission contributes to the process by providing smooth and efficient shifting during operations.
The Fuso Eco-Hybrid is designed to deliver its best results in stop/start traffic conditions and low to medium speed applications. An Idle Stop/Star system (ISS) allows the driver to turn the diesel engine off and on, at traffic lights, by simply moving the gearstick from “Drive” to “Neutral” and back again. This allows for even further fuel consumption savings and reduced emissions.
Finally we come to the bus segment, and here Mitsubishi Fuso markets the steel bodied Rosa. Production of the first Rosa light bus started at, the then, Nagoya Automobile Works Oye Plant, in September 1960. The first Rosa “B10” Model (with 21-passenger capacity) was launched in December of that year.
In its 50-year life, more than 175,000 Rosa buses have been sold in over 40 countries around the world, and Rosa has enjoyed a deserved reputation for reliability and performance.
With 25 seats, each with 3-point lap/sash safety belts, it’s a well-proven design, and offers operators a transmission choice between a six-speed manual, or automatic, transmission. Its current sales position is recognised by the Rosa being the best selling bus, in its class, for seven consecutive years.