Fuso’s all-electric Canter promises to show better results than hybrids and natural gas.// Chris Mullett reports from the IAA Show in Hannover.
Watching the continuing development of cleaner emissions strategies that have combined with more fuel efficient engines has been interesting to say the least, given that just a few years ago engineers were claiming that all emissions gains would result in fuel economy suffering dramatically. That prediction did not eventuate, and, with enough development dollars invested in finding better solutions, we’ve seen some really substantial gains in both fuel efficiency combined with lower emissions levels.
In the light truck market most of the hybrid activity has been confined to Mitsubishi Fuso and its rival Hino. Both have seen sales where government incentives exist, but in open markets these manufacturers have struggled to find the critical mass necessary to keep these products as a viable option in their respective product ranges.
Mitsubishi Fuso used this year’s IAA event in Hanover to showcase some of its latest ideas for improving fuel efficiency, starting with what the company calls “Ecofficiency”, and now available in the Canter range, the top-selling model in the Daimler Trucks portfolio.
Ecofficiency comprises a whole raft of measures available as standard for all Canter model variants. There are many different aspects to this: higher injection pressure for even more efficient fuel combustion, low-friction engine oil to reduce in-engine friction, an electromagnetic fan clutch, an optimised cooling system, a start/stop system for the engine, a new axle ratio configuration, low rolling-resistance tyres for the Euro VI models and reduced friction losses in the transmission with manual gearshift.
The combination of these strategies has resulted in the latest Canter being up to nine percent more economical than its predecessor, depending on variant and field of application. At the same time, CO2 emissions have been reduced by a similar amount.
In line with the general development of common-rail fuel injection systems, Mitsubishi Fuso has increased its fuel injection pressures to 2000 bar, a rise of 25 percent and achieved through fitting a new design of injector. The engine itself has chain-driven twin overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder and is now using an exhaust gas driven turbocharger with variable nozzle turbine, not yet moving to the next possible level of having electrically powered supercharging.
The Canter’s power and torque outputs remain unchanged following its further development. There are three versions of the 4P10 engine and these are 96 kW at 3000-3500 rpm with 300 Nm at 1300-3050 rpm, 110 kW at 3500 rpm with 370 Nm at 1320-2840 rpm, and 129 kW at 3500 rpm with 430 Nm of peak torque rated at 1600-2860 rpm. Auto stop/start is now standard on all models and this is claimed to reduce fuel consumption in city driving by up to three percent.
High-pressure injection and improved torque spreads have enabled engineers to revisit standard rear axle ratios to reduce engine rpm at cruising speed. Most Canter versions now have a longer ratio option, and this selection suits operators that are not running consistently at full gross weights. Where high payloads are the norm, or when towing a trailer or in hilly country, almost all models are available with a ten percent shorter axle ratio.
The slightly lesser emissions standards of Euro 5b in light trucks for Europe with GVWs of up to 6 tonnes are achieved by using a combination of exhaust gas recirculation, oxidation catalytic converter and particulate filter. Stepping up to full Euro 6 compliance sees Fuso incorporating the Daimler BlueTec engines with SCR technology. These feature AdBlue injection and a downstream oxidation catalytic converter. The capacity of the particulate filter and the SCR catalytic converter has been increased to meet the stricter requirements of Euro 6.
In all models, the particulate filter is configured for the vehicle’s lifetime and is maintenance-free, meaning that it never needs to be cleaned or replaced. It is regenerated automatically. In the case of extreme short-distance use, low exhaust gas temperatures may make manual regeneration necessary. A status indicator on the multifunction display indicates this to the driver, should this be the case. A button activates manual regeneration.
Moving up the Canter range in terms of technology is the Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid. In typical urban operation cycles the Eco Hybrid achieves fuel savings of up to 23 percent. Compared to the previous model, the already low fuel consumption has been reduced further whilst CO2 emissions have also been cut through including the previously mentioned move to a longer axle ratio and an optimised gearshift strategy.
The Canter Eco Hybrid starts off from rest using electric power before switching to conventional diesel propulsion. This model also includes engine stop/start and features the Duonic dual clutch transmission, which is unique in this class.
The 3.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel produces maximum power of 110 kW and peak torque of 370 Nm and runs to Euro 6 emissions standards using SCR technology and AdBlue (DEF). It is teamed with a 40 kW electric motor that produces peak torque of 200 Nm fully available from start-up.
Energy for the electric motor is provided by lithium-ion batteries. The batteries have a capacity of 2.0 Ah and weigh 63.5 kg. Fuso provides a five-year or optional ten-year warranty on all major battery components. Every time the brakes are applied, the batteries are replenished through recuperation, i.e., the conversion of kinetic energy into electric current.
The driving strategy for the Canter Eco Hybrid is based on the vehicle starting up and moving off in quiet, electric mode. Then at a speed of around 10 km/h the diesel engine kicks in. Below this speed the diesel engine runs in neutral, supplying power to the ancillary equipment. The electric motor assists the diesel engine when accelerating, even at higher speeds, and start/stop control stops the diesel engine when the vehicle is stationary.
Japan is the home of Daimler Trucks’ centre of competence for hybrid technology, and, with this experience behind it, Fuso has also been responsible for developing the new battery-electric-powered Canter E-Cell.
The Canter E-Cell for Europe is manufactured at the Tramagal plant in Portugal and is particularly suitable for use in limited-distance operations in environmentally sensitive areas, for example in city-centre traffic or in eco-zones and pedestrian precincts. As a particularly sustainable form of transport, it also provides companies with an opportunity to enhance their profile with customers and the public in general.
Since its initial release at the IAA 2010, the Canter E-Cell has seen considerable further development. It is based on the chassis of the conventional Canter and allows a permissible gross vehicle weight of 6.0 tonnes with a payload of around 3.0 tonnes.
The electric motor in the new Canter E-Cell gives it a maximum output of 110 kW (150 hp) and high maximum torque of 650 Nm. The power is transferred to the rear axle via a single-speed transmission. Both the drive shaft and the rear axle components have been adopted from the Canter with a conventional diesel engine.
The top speed of the Canter E-Cell, as with all vehicles in this weight class in Europe, is limited to 90 km/h, and the battery capacity ensures a range of more than 100 km. Charging the batteries at 230 volts takes around seven hours, while use of a rapid-charging system can reduce this to just one hour.
Driving the Canter E-Cell is very similar to a conventional vehicle and it starts by turning an ignition key. As with a torque-converter automatic, the driver can select between the gear settings D – N – R and P. The practical crawl function in D and R is also comparable with that of an automatic transmission – the driver can thus manoeuvre the Canter E-Cell simply by operating the brake pedal.
The 2014 Canter range also improves its safety performance and now incorporates an electronically controlled braking system as standard. Electronic Stability Programme is likewise standard for all models with the exception of the Canter 4×4 with all-wheel drive. Integral functions of ESP include ABS, acceleration skid control and Brake Assist.