The Three Diamonds brand of Mitsubishi Fuso celebrates 50 years of Canter production and the 80th birthday of the Fuso brand
With it’s instant recognition of being the “Not-So-Squeezy” light truck on the Australian market, Mitsubishi Fuso is justifiably proud to be able to celebrate 50 years of its association with the Canter nameplate.
The first generation of the Fuso Canter truck came on the market in March 1963. Fifty years and eight generations later, Daimler is celebrating the truck as a best-selling hit with global sales of over 3,700,000 units since the market launch in its home market, Japan.
The light-duty Fuso Canter truck is the flagship of the Daimler subsidiary, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), and is in demand by customers in more than 150 countries around the world. The Fuso Canter, which has been produced for the European market in Tramagal, Portugal, since 1980, is enjoying growing popularity in Europe.
Launched onto the European market in 2012, the Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid has also been available in Australian since February 2013. The benefits for an operator include the reduction in fuel consumption of up to 23 percent when compared to a conventional Canter, returning on its initial additional investment within three to four years.
“The hybrid market in Japan is currently two percent of the total sales. Of this sector we have a 40 percent market share. Our research continues in heavy-duty hybrid application, but with a reduction of stop/go urban operation the benefits are not so comparable. However, we still think that hybrid is the way to go,” said Dr. Albert Kirchmann, CEO and President of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation.
“Hybrid development is centred in Kawasaki but also includes the Daimler global operations in Portland, Oregon, and Stuttgart, Germany. Hybrid is not only the answer for Fuso, but will expand with other Daimler products.
“We have a collaborative effort between Daimler buses and hybrids on Fuso. In Europe, the bus activity is actually pushing hybrid development. We are still considering the alternatives between series and parallel hybrid designs.
“I think the Canter Hybrid programme has proven it will, in the future, be more important to introduce it in stages. Will the customer pay the extra price if there are no subsidies? We are taking the road of innovation, but balancing the funding and to move as a front-runner and not as a follower.
“Our first Canter EV (Electric Vehicle) is now in service on trial with Nexco of Japan (National Express Company). Our hybrid programme offers fuel savings of 5-10 percent right through the product range,” added Dr. Kirchmann.
The first Canter generation was the Canter T720, a light front-wheel-drive truck with a payload of 2,000 kg that came on the Japanese market in March 1963. The current model is in its eighth generation and reflects the continuous technological development of the vehicle.
The second-generation Canter T90 followed in 1968, and with a higher performance engine range it was the first full model change. In 1973, the Canter 200 third generation upsized to offer payloads of 2,500-3,000 kg.
The fourth generation arrived in 1978 with a new wide cab and a 3,000 kg payload, and the fifth generation added a newly-developed 130 PS (95.6 kW) turbocharged diesel in 1985. In 1991, Canter achieved the sales milestone of 1,000,000 units in Japan.
By 1993, generation six boasted the incorporation of improved aerodynamics in its design, and, in 2002, generation seven upgraded the model range for its introduction to global markets and world standards. Generation eight brought with it the introduction of BlueTec technology and the Duonic dual-cutch transmission in 2010, expanding on the ability of the Eco Hybrid version that had been introduced in 2006.
Dr. Albert Kirchmann now has the added responsibilities of overseeing the bundling of both Mitsubishi Fuso and BharatBenz in a new group operation under the umbrella of Daimler Trucks Asia, as the company takes advantages of the various synergies this situation presents to grow market share in the Asian and African markets.
Daimler Trucks Asia will invest additional 300 million euro in the extension of the sales and production networks for FUSO and BharatBenz trucks from 2014 to 2018.
Fuso in Australia has grown its market share by 18.2 percent to hold a 10.4 percent share in the overall commercial vehicle market.
“Looking ahead, I believe we can sustain that level of growth in the segments where we can operate,” said Dr. Kirchmann.
“In 2012, our total sales in the Asian market topped 176,000 units. By 2016, we expect that to rise to 250,000 units, and by 2020 we are aiming for peak volumes of 290,000 units. This is taking Fuso to the next level, with global sales to reach 500,000 by 2016 and 700,000 units by 2020.
“We are investing substantially in our production facility in Kawasaki and also in Chennai with Daimler India. We are launching a new truck range for emerging markets adding 15 new markets with more to come. These include Kenya, Sri Lanka, Zambia and our latest addition the island of Guam.
“The markets of Southeast Asia have a significant market potential for the long term. According to external forecasts, annual truck sales for the entire region of Southeast Asia are expected to grow by about 20 to 30 percent until 2020. In the same period, the truck market on the African continent promises to grow by 5 to 10 percent per year.
“We have already achieved an annual production efficiency increase of five percent in Kawasaki with assembly line expansion and enhancement. We have also completed the integration of Nakatsu transmission as a global transmission hub,” said Dr. Kirchmann.
Looking ahead to the introduction of Euro VI emissions technology in 2014 for the European market will see the Canter range introduce a new higher GVM model of 8,550 kg, allowing payloads of 6,000 kg.
This unit will be powered by the 3.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel in ratings of 110 and 129 kW, and the specification will also include ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), ABS and electronic brake apportioning as standard.
The standard-fit “Ecofficiency” package comprises a variety of measures designed to reduce consumption, such as higher injection pressures of 2000 bar, the use of fuel-efficient engine oil, engine start/stop function, and longer axle ratios.
The variants with a permissible gross vehicle weight above 6,500 kg and rated at 110 kW (150 hp) and 129 kW (175 hp) will additionally feature tyres with optimised rolling resistance and an enhanced diesel particulate filter. These engine variants make use of BlueTec 6 technology by means of an SCR catalytic converter.