BOB Aquaro's Mitsubishi Fuso presentation at the NTEA's Truck Product Conference was a mixture of the new and the old: the introduction of the FH 210 for the 2003 model year; a summary of the FE-SP crew cab that was not presented last year because the conference was canceled due to 9/11; and changes to some established models.
The FH 210 is a Class 5 vehicle available at a GVW of 17,000 lb, with a sister truck, the 211, that is available at 17,995 GVW. It includes wheelbases of 130.3, 150, 169.7, 181.5, and 191.7 inches, cab-to-axle lengths of 106.2, 125.9, 145.6, 157.4, and 168.9 inches, and overall lengths of 222.6, 257.3, 285.4, 302.6, and 318.3 inches.
The front axle is a reverse Elliott, I-beam type, with 7,275 lb capacity, while the rear axle is the full-floating type, with 16,975 lb capacity. The front suspension is heavy-duty laminated leaf springs with shock absorbers and stabilizer bar, while the rear is heavy-duty laminated leaf springs.
The steering is ball-nut type, with integral-type hydraulic power booster, telescopic, and tilt steering column with steering lock.
The FH 210 features a 175-hp intercooled, turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine and automatic transmission. Aquaro said the 4-cylinder is “a bit of a departure for us for Class 5, because we also offer a 6-cylinder.” He said the 6-cylinder is still available on a 5-speed manual transmission on the short wheelbase and a 6-speed on the longer wheelbase.
The FH 210 is available in the US only with an automatic transmission, which is part of a nationwide trend. Aquaro, Mitsubishi Fuso's vice president of product planning and assurance, said you can't give automatic transmissions away in Europe, Asia, and Australia, but he has seen steady growth in their popularity among Mitsubishi models sold domestically.
He said 90% of the Class 3 and 4 applications feature automatic transmission. In Class 5, the prevalence is less, but it has increased from 48% to 52% over the past two years. Class 6 (40%) and Class 7 (25%) are slightly less.
“Every year, we see a growth in automatic transmissions sales in the US,” he said. “Sooner or later, we'll be looking at 100%. The country is just going in that direction.”
The FE-SP crew cab is a Class 4, 14,500 GVW truck with four doors and room for seven passengers. The front axle rating is 5360 lb, while the rear is 9880. It comes in only one wheelbase — 165.4", with usable cab-to-axle of 103.4.
“It's a very tight mount,” Aquaro said. “It's a fixed-cab truck. The snorkel behind the cab is only about 1½" in depth. So when you mount, don't be afraid to get up against the cab.”
The engine is model 4M50T2, a four-stroke cycle, watercooled, direction injection, turbocharged, intercooled diesel, with maximum torque of 347 lb/ft at 1800 rpm.
The transmission is 4-speed automatic, 175 hp. The front axle is a Reverse Elliot, I-beam type with 5510-lb capacity, while the rear axle is full-floating type with 9920-lb capacity.
Mitsubishi factors in the weight of seven people in the cab when calculating weight distribution. Said Aquaro, “A little bit of overhang on this truck is not a bad thing. It helps offset some of the front-axle weight.”
Who's using the trucks? He said in the past five to six months, they've been going into the landscape application, with lawn service proving to be very popular. They're also going to civil engineering and survey companies, along with high-pressure cleaning and glass-installation companies.
“It's a versatile, across-the-board type application,” he said.
Among the changes to existing product lines, Aquaro said Mitsubishi has discontinued the 13,500 GVW model and upgraded that to 14,050 GVW for all states. Previously, the 14,050 GVW model was available only in California.
“We just had too many models — 12,000s, 13,500s, 14,050s, and 14,500s — and we're trying to consolidate,” he said.
The Class 3 lineup now includes the FE 639 at 12,000 GVW, FE 649 at 14,050, and the SP at 14,500 GVW. Those trucks are available only with a 145-hp engine. The FE 640, at 14,500 GVW, is available with the 175-hp crew-cab option.
The FG, the only 4-wheel drive medium-duty cabover on the market, according to Mitsubishi, is still available: the 639 at 12,000 GVW with automatic transmission, and the 649 at 14,050 GVW with manual transmission.
“FGs are alive and well,” he said. “FG sales are up and down, depending on the time of year. You'll see them now hitting your place because winter is coming on. In the spring, they'll start to slow down. Same thing with the crew cab. Most crew cab sales are in the spring, when people are buying for summer. Then they start to fade away in the fall, and come back in the spring.”
He said the only change to the FG is the tire and grid combination. Mitsubishi was using a 750R16 with a five-lug wheel, and now is going with 235/85R16, a six-lug wheel.
“The tires are not interchangeable, because the wheel offsets on these trucks are different,” he said. “The track is a bit different as well. Because of that change, there are changes in the bodybuilder's book that reflect that.”
Other highlights of Aquaro's presentation:
Mitsubishi recently did some testing on the Chelsea 270 PTO. “We're open to testing any PTO that anybody wants to send us,” he said.
On a straight-channel frame, the company is running a width of 840mm. He said that eventually will be a standard frame for Class 5 and above.
There will be no major changes for 2003 in Class 6 or 7 products, except for the FH 657, which will have a different curb weight and a different configuration for the rear-spring chambers. He said the FM 617, a Class 6 truck with a 25,995 GVW and 200-hp intercooled turbocharged diesel engine, is now No.3 in volume of all Mitsubishi trucks, trailing only the FE 640 (Class 4, 175 hp) and FH 211.
On chassis or equipment relocation, he said: “We want to help you. We've done a lot of them this year. If you have an issue with the equipment location of anything, whether it's a battery box that has to get moved, or a fuel tank or transmission, don't hesitate to contact us. We are not against making changes. We will work with you on anything you want us to do, as long as it's legal.”
As an example, he cited a company in Texas that builds mobile showcases and equipment service trucks. He said “almost everything” was moved, including batteries and fuel tanks.