The new Fighter FK 1124 is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, it is one of those models that borrows some elements from the next size up and some from the next size below, to create the kind of hybrid the market is starting to look for. It suits a growing task in the transport industry. Read more
For truck manufacturers in Australia, it’s all the rage, ready made trucks fitted with bodies able to go to work straight out of the dealership. This has become an accelerating trend in recent years as more and more trucks are offered for sale already fitted with tipper, flat top and even pan bodies. Read more
A good truck-selling organisation should be about communication, communication, communication up and down the line, with plenty of feedback reaching the right ears. In the case of the new Fighter FK 1124 is one of those models that borrows some elements from the next size up and some from the next size below, it was the product development team who got the message about this emerging gap in the range.
Getting it just right making the truck fit the task is the art of truck development. Fuso has come up with a truck model to fill another niche at 11 tonnes gross vehicle mass, Diesel News takes it for a drive.
The Japanese truck makers in the Australian market are able to count their model variants in the hundreds. As a truck buyer, we don’t look at the full 150 variants available when purchasing, we are simply looking for a truck to do a particular task, or set of tasks. In this case, there may be a few to choose from, but often there may just be one to fit the bill.
Identifying that precise model is part of the truck dealers’ skill set. They need to ensure the truck sold to the customer is the right fit and will do the job it is intended for – and do it for a considerable time without any durability issues.
Over time, tasks change, customer expectations rise and new challenges come along. If a task changes, it may not be the case of going up to the next size or mass limit. The truck to fit the new niche may not exist in precisely the form the changing customer needs.
This is where new truck development comes in, and it’s where the product engineers earn their keep. They are looking at a long drawn-out development process – and the truck sales person needs to answer their customer’s questions now.
New models have to go through a process where the initial idea is worked on to come up with the engineering that will make it work. For the truck importer, the engineers need to source any different components from the extensive parts catalogue their parent company holds. Then, the engineers need to ensure any new design will actually work and is compatible with the rest of the truck’s design.
We can take the latest Fuso Fighter model to be introduced to the line-up as an example. The Fighter range runs from trucks at the lighter end of the medium-duty range all the way up to the lighter end of the heavy-duty range. The trucks are mainly 4×2 configuration, but are also available as a 6×2 or a 6×2 at the higher-mass end of the range.
The Fighter comes in three different cabin sizes – the FK, the FM and the FN. The FN is the six-wheeler, the FM is the truck sold around the 16-tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) mark and the FK is the truck available in a GVM from 10.4 tonnes up to 14 tonnes.
Obviously, the FK also has the smaller, narrower cab; there is no need for the larger wider FM cabin in this segment. The FK, the highest selling of all of the Fighter range, now has twelve variants.
The new Fighter FK 1124 is one of those models that borrows some elements from the next size up and some from the next size below, to create the kind of hybrid the market is starting to look for. It suits a growing task in the transport industry.
What was the market looking for, which it couldn’t find from Fuso? It liked the smaller cabin and the driver’s seat lower to the ground. All-round visibility was important and the transom window in the passenger door was another element required.
The market was also looking for some items found in heavier trucks, however, such as full air braking. There was also a need for something that is becoming ‘de rigueur’ in many medium-duty trucks, the Allison automatic gearbox. In this case, the LCT 2500 five-speed fitted the bill.
Several years ago, sales staff at the pointy end observed an increase in customer demand for exactly this kind of model, and realised there wasn’t a precise fit in their range. They were faced with two alternatives, use another very similar truck from the range and adapt where possible to suit the customer, or risk watching the customer get what they needed from a fierce competitor. Neither is an ideal solution.
A field trial of truck platooning in Japan shows how the new technology is spreading across the globe and sees a much more cooperative approach to the subject from the Japanese Government.
The trial took place this week on a highway in Tokyo’s West. It is part of a project to bring the platooning concept to the Asian industrial giant. Japan, like many developed countries, suffers from an acute driver shortage and concepts like platooning are seen as a way of overcoming this problem.
Interestingly the project involves all four of the Japanese truck manufacturers we are familiar with in Australia, Isuzu, Hino, Fuso and UD. A company called Toyota Tsusho is also involved representing a number of interested parties, including the Japanese Government.
The trucks used in the first tests include representatives of all of the truck brands involved. Running in a tight group on the highway the 6×2 rigid truck held a spacing of about 35 metres apart as they headed down the highway at 80 km/h. These test drives are scheduled between January 23 and February 1 on Shin-Tomei Expressway southwest of Tokyo and on Kita-Kano Expressway, north of the Japanese capital.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) initiated the platooning test. It is part of the Japanese government’s Future Strategy 2017. This strategy aims to roll out innovations like the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence across all industries. In the commercial vehicle sector, truck platooning is expected to contribute to the reduction of fuel consumption and to lower CO2-emissions. In addition, truck platooning will help with Japan’s dramatic driver shortage issue.
Japan is rated 11th in the world on the KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, well below the leading countries in the world, The Netherlands, Singapore, USA and Sweden. However, in the Index’s analysis of the readiness of the road infrastructure to handle autonomous vehicles and platooning, Japan is ranked just 3rd.
The issue for Japan is, in fact, consumer acceptance, which is very low, 16th in the world. Trials like those taking place in Tokyo are aimed at trying to allay public fears and mistrust of the new technology.
Incidentally, Australia is ranked below Japan in the AVRI, at 14th. Although our consumer acceptance rating is much higher than Japan, France and South Korea, our road infrastructure is deemed well below the levels achieved in Europe. However, we are considered better prepared than New Zealand and Canada.
Overall, Singapore is reckoned to be number one in preparation of its policy and regulation, while the US is classified as the leader in technology and innovation, The Netherlands leads the infrastructure ladder and the highest consumer acceptance is in Singapore, a country which has lived with driverless trains for some time.
Fuso is set to swing low with one of the models released this year. The vast array of models from the Japanese truck maker are always task specific, and as a result, the specifications available from the Japanese in light- and medium-duty are very closely aligned from manufacturer to manufacturer. Sometime it would be hard to get a cigarette paper in between the model specs.
What we end up with is a truck market where the buying decision is based on something else, often price, but not exclusively. However, Fuso has one niche of the light-duty market which it owns – the low chassis and overall height of the Canter Super Low.
This is a model that went away and then returned with little fanfare a few years ago – the Canter 515 Super Low City Cab. Fuso is now highlighting this model as one which is unique to its Australian range. It has an unladen height of 2.01m and is said to be the only Japanese truck in the Australian market able to move under a 2.1m roof, with a safety margin of nearly 9mm. This allows access into most car parks to make deliveries, pick-ups or carry out other work.
“We are the only Japanese truck manufacturer to offer this type of product and we know it is the perfect model for operators in certain industries,” says Fuso Product Management and Engineering Senior Manager, Romesh Rodrigo. “Hitting the ceiling in a covered car park is an expensive mistake and being denied access to key locations because your truck is too tall can limit the effectiveness of operators to service their customer’s needs. That’s why Fuso has delivered this clever solution.”
All of the 4.5-tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM) models utilise the smooth, independent front suspension, which gives these lighter trucks such a smooth ride. The exception is the factory tipper, which sticks to steel springs all round.
Power comes from a three-litre engine generating 150hp (110kW) between 2,840rpm and 3,500rpm and 370Nm (272 ft lb) of torque from 1,350rpm to 2,840rpm. This engine rating is also used on the trucks with GVMs between 5.5 and 6.5 tonnes. However, at higher GVM ratings like the 918 crew cab tested, the same engine gets a power boost, but also a Selective Catalytic Reduction
(SCR) system in addition to the standard DPF. This engine is rated at 175hp (129kW), with a torque output up to 430Nm (317 ft lb).
Our first experience of a new approach from Fuso is the latest update to the Canter light-duty range of trucks. These were unveiled and explained by the new team in Geelong Victoria, where Diesel News got a chance to drive the latest trucks and talk to the new team.
First up, it is important to point out the mechanical specification of the Canter range is largely untouched, with the one caveat being the Duonic automated manual transmission now has a hill-hold function plus standard cruise control.
Fuso realised there had to be some cosmetic changes, but they are minimal and hard to pick from the casual observer’s point of view. Fuso’s styling team has come up with, what it calls a ‘subtle lift’ – a silver-painted top grille louvre.
Step inside the new model and there is a more distinctive change, with the dashboard and seat trim going darker. The dashboard and door panels are now black and grey, then there are small things like silver-painted highlights on the gear-lever surround and a steering wheel–mounted badge. Seat trims are now black instead of blue and use extra padding, plus there is now a new driver and passenger seat with black trim.
There is also now a ceiling-mounted LED lamp, a sun-visor pocket and a new floor tray, plus changes to the storage compartment integrated into the middle seat back. The driver can access the hidden compartment by releasing a catch and folding down the padded front section.
New Soft Products
Fuso are keen to point out that all of the ancillary services offered to anyone buying a truck are all handled in house by Daimler Trucks. Things like warranty, servicing and finance are all under the same umbrella.
The first and most obvious change comes with a substantial drop in a lot of spare parts prices. High turnover items like oil filters, air filter elements, fuel filters, alternators and starter motors have been reduced by between 32 per cent and 61 per cent, according to the Fuso team.
“The parts price cuts have been applied to more than 10,000 items including the most common consumable parts our customers need,” says Justin. “These are substantial savings that make the business case for choosing a Fuso truck or bus even stronger.”
A reappraisal of the servicing strategy offered to truck customers means Fuso has lengthened the service intervals of some key components, while ensuring they remain within durability parameters.
Truck warranty has been extended to five years and is said by Fuso to cover most components on a truck, except for tyres, consumables, accidental damage, wear-and-tear items, non factory-supplied accessories and non-approved aftermarket modifications.
In more detail, the warranty covers five years or 500,000km or 10,000 operating hours for the heavier end of the truck market – the FP, FV and FS models, and five years, 350,000km or 7,000 operating hours for the medium-duty FM and FN Fighter models. The FK Fighter is covered for five years or 300,000km or 6,000 operating hours, while the Canter light-duty truck and Rosa bus are covered for five years, 200,000km or 4,000 operating hours.
Sometimes truck makers seem to renew a model just for the sake of having something new to say, but sometimes they have something new to say without needing a major update. At Fuso it would seem the latter is the case, with many changes to the brand without much cosmetic change to the trucks on offer.
The world of the Japanese truck manufacturers in Australia is a very clear-cut one. Often the trucks are a commodity, it is difficult to differentiate between them, from the customers point of view. This sector of the market relies a lot less on the kind of emotional and traditional buying decisions we see occurring in the heavy-duty line-haul prime mover sector.
The vast array of models from the Japanese are much more task specific, with each model designed to meet a particular task, or group of tasks. As a result, the specifications available from the Japanese in light- and medium-duty are very closely aligned from manufacturer to manufacturer. Sometime it would be hard to get a cigarette paper in between the model specs.
What we end up with is a truck market where the buying decision is based on something else – often price, but not exclusively. Very often it is all the other things which come along with the cold hard metal of the truck.
Now, Fuso is revamping its offering to the truck buyers of Australia, without changing the basic truck in any mechanical sense, simply moving forward with all of the ancillary features, be it cosmetic on the truck, in the control and entertainment systems or how the truck is purchased and serviced.
This move comes after a radical shake-up of the Fuso organisation itself. The changes follow the arrival of a new leadership team. Long-time boss Richard Eyre remains part of the set-up but in a less hands on and more strategic role. In his stead we have Justin Whitford, fresh from a stint running Mercedes Benz trucks during its transformation from a bit player in the market to a brand offering completely new truck models throughout its range.
As the new Fuso Truck and Bus Director, Justin brings a fresh approach to the truck game and has the kind of enquiring mind to question any assumption. His arrival has seen the face of Fuso, both literally and metaphorically, go through a major change.
One of the faces which has changed is that of the new Fuso Product Management and Engineering Senior Manager, Romesh Rodrigo. Coming from a truck engineering background including Iveco, Mercedes Benz and Isuzu, Romesh also brings a fresh eye to the Fuso range and can use his broad based experience to develop the next generation Fuso models.
Beginning next year, an Australian electric truck trial will feature the new Fuso eCanter. The truck has been involved in real-world trials in Portugal and Germany, and the latest eCanter features an upgraded drive system and new design. Fuso confirmed the eCanter will be involved in a trial with key customer fleets next year.
Fuso revealed the third generation of the all-electric light duty truck at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hannover last week. The new eCanter uses a permanent synchronous electric motor with an output of 185 kW and torque of 380 Nm. Power is transferred to the rear axle by a standard single-speed transmission.
“We are excited to be able to conduct a local trial with the groundbreaking all-electric Fuso eCanter in Australia,” said Justin Whitford, Fuso Truck and Bus Director.
The eCanter has a battery capacity of 70 kWh. Depending on the body, load and also usage, a range of more than 100 km without stationary recharging is possible. The batteries are spread over five units, one centrally in the frame right behind the cab and two more on each side of the frame.
They are water-cooled lithium-ion batteries and said to have a long service life, high efficiency, especially at high ambient temperatures, and also a compact design for the battery units. Despite the weight of the battery pack, the chassis load capacity of the 7.5 tonne vehicle is 4.63 tonne including the body and load.
Individual battery packs with three to six sets of batteries of 14 kWh each are planned for the upcoming small-scale production run. This allows the eCanter to be adapted to customer requirements with regards to range, price and weight.
For some operators, payload is more important than range, while others are happy to sacrifice payload for longer range, i.e. more battery packs. In the charging options, up to 80 per cent capacity within an hour with direct current at a quick charging station is possible, and 100 per cent in seven hours with alternating current.
In the future, Fuso reckon rapid charging with 170 kW will also be possible in only half an hour, equating to 80 per cent battery capacity.
The truck on show at the IAA featured a new design, with LED headlamps and also a a new grille and bumper, as well as a redesigned interior including a central, removable tablet.
Fuso are claiming, the eCanter can be offered at a competitive price at market launch. Lower running costs compared with an equivalent diesel model mean that any additional expense can be repaid in around three years.
In a year-long fleet test in Europe with the second generation of the Fuso Canter E-Cell showed $1400 per 10 000 km can be saved with this vehicle compared to a diesel version.
64 per cent savings in operating costs are being claimed as results for an electric truck trial are being published. Customer field trials with eight Fuso Canter E-Cell trucks in Portugal began in mid-2014. The Canters were permanently monitored and analysed during the one-year field trial.
The trucks travelled 51,500 km without a problem, demonstrating operating ranges of up to 109 km. The most used Canter E-Cell was in service with the Transporta parcel service company and completed a distance of over 14,000 km during the one-year trial.
Charging the batteries on a 240 volt outlet takes about seven hours, a time which is cut to just one hour on a quick charging system. According to Fuso the trial resulted in savings in operating costs of up to 64 per cent.
The City of Lisbon used the Canter E-Cell for the disposal of vegetation and waste, the City of Porto used it as a collection vehicle for recyclables, the City of Sintra for forest management and the cities of Abrantes and Cascais likewise for landscape maintenance.
The Transporta parcel service used the vehicle for door-to-door deliveries to households, energy supplier REN for transport purposes within the industrial gas depots in the cities of Sines and Pombal. Finally, the Canter E-Cell also assisted the Portuguese postal service CTT with transport operations between the distribution centres of Lisbon and Coimbras.
From the outside, the FUSO Canter E-Cell is only distinguished from its diesel-powered or diesel-electric powered brethren by the battery packs mounted to the two sides of the frame. An electric drivetrain takes the place of the three litre diesel engine behind the unchanged Canter cab. The electric motor sends 110 kW (150 hp) of power to the rear axle via a one-speed transmission.
According to Fuso, the peak torque of 650 Nm accelerates the truck almost like a passenger car. As soon as the driver releases the accelerator pedal, the electronics switch to energy recovery mode, the electric motor turns into a generator and feeds the exhaust brake energy generated during the rolling phase back to the lithium-ion batteries mounted to the frame. The top speed of the Canter E-Cell is limited to 90 km/h.
To prevent the Canter E-Cell’s silent running from creating hazards, the trucks are fitted with the acoustic VSP warning system (vehicle sound for pedestrians), which can be activated at the push of a button.