For the past six months three prototype all-electric Hino 300 Series trucks have operated alongside their traditional diesel and hybrid diesel/electric brethren in two established Japanese transport companies’ fleets.
Hino Australia Product Planning Manager Daniel Petrovski said the 300 Series electric vehicle prototype’s familiar exterior belies the unique architecture of its chassis and drivetrain components.
“If you were to see a 300 Series electric prototype parked on the street, it wouldn’t be obvious that it was an all-electric or even a prototype vehicle,” he said.
“Nevertheless, the entire architecture of the truck is different – it has a lithium-ion battery that powers an efficient electric motor which actually drives the front wheels.
“Even though the words ‘front-wheel drive’ and ‘truck’ don’t traditionally go together, there are a number of benefits to this design.”
Mr Petrovski said the front-wheel drive, all-electric architecture had surprising benefits in a light-duty commercial vehicle.
“The batteries sit inside the frame between the axles, where the driveshaft and fuel tank would traditionally reside,” he said.
“The lightweight electric motor sits in place of the diesel unit, which directly powers the front wheels.
“Because of the immense torque of the electric motor, and because there is no need to maintain idle if the truck is stopped, a traditional gearbox and clutch aren’t required – it’s as easy as driving a golf cart.
“With the entire drivetrain located in the front of the truck, and the power source mid-mounted low in the chassis, the truck body can have an extremely low floor – some 42 centimetres lower than a traditional light-duty truck.”
Mr Petrovski said that in addition to the efficient load space and ease of use that the 300 Series electric prototype offers, the impact of all-electric commercial vehicles on a city environment would be immense.
“As we’re all aware, cities are a focal point for pollution from airborne waste, noise and hazardous fuel products,” he said.
“The electric 300 Series prototype solves these problems in one fell swoop.
“Replacing the internal combustion engine with an electric motor means no hazardous fuels or oils are used for power or lubrication.
“Electric vehicles don’t emit any pollution, which means cleaner air in the cities, and the noise of the 300 Series prototype’s electric motor at full load is a fraction of the level of a traditional diesel engine.
“Electric motors are more efficient at turning potential energy into power than their fossil-fuel equivalents as well; if the electricity was generated by solar, geothermal or wind-turbine generators, we could be utilising this renewable energy in the most efficient way possible.”
Mr Petrovski said the 300 Series electric prototype sets the bar for clean, green and quiet commercial transport.
“Hino Motors is well aware of the impact of private and commercial vehicles on the environment,” he said.
“Since 1993, Hino has had an environmental charter that pushes for continuous improvement of efficiency in transportation, construction, recycling and product.
“We believe the 300 Series electric prototype is a significant leap forward in that regard.”