Mitsubishi Fuso unveils major changes

MITSUBISHI FUSO'S 2008 light-duty cabover trucks feature new configurations and a new engine emissions system with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), but the most significant changes are seen on the medium-duty side, according to Bob Aquaro, vice president of product development.

The FK/FM medium-duty models include a new cab that reduces aerodynamic drag up to 25% in flatbed applications and 4% in van bodies.

“We tried to take the air flow that's normally flowing into front of body and streamline it so it stayed primarily on outside of body,” Aquaro said. “That should be a big help for people with tall boxes in terms of fuel economy.”

The FK260 (based on a different platform at 25,995 lb GVWR than last year's FM260), has a frame height of 38", a 3" reduction. Its air-suspension version is equipped with a dump valve that will lower the truck an additional 2.5" with the air bags dumped.

It comes with an Allison 2200 RDS (rough duty service) or Fuso 6-speed manual transmission, body lengths of 16' to 30' (where 30' is legal), a new 253“ wheelbase, 6M60 Fuso Engine (243 horsepower and 513 lb-ft of torque), and full air brakes.

The FM330 (32,900 GVWR) has a 40" frame height, lowered from 43", an Allison MD3000 RDS or Fuso 6-speed manual transmission, 6M60 Fuso engine (243 hp and 513 lb-ft torque), and comes in body lengths of 18' to 28' and with full air brakes.

Clean idle sticker

Aquaro said the trucks include a California Air Resources Board (CARB) “Certified Clean Idle” sticker with an image of the state of California.

“By CARB definition, you must have engine-idle-limiting on an engine, so the standard says if that the engine is idling for three to five minutes, it has to shut down,” he said. “However, there is a voluntary certification program that engine manufacturers can do which basically measures the NOx emissions at idle. If that engine is clean enough and meets NOx requirements at idle, you do not have to have an engine shutdown system on it, which basically means that engine could sit there all day long and idle in a CARB state and be legal. Mitsubishi Fuso chose to submit the engine to the voluntary certification, and the engine met the requirements for CARB. It's quite a significant challenge to meet this requirement in a 6M60 engine, and the 4M50 engine in the FE also met it.”

Aquaro said the front bumper was changed significantly to get as much air flowing underneath the truck.

An 8% reduction in cab noise at engine idle was “done by a semi-floating cab mount and optimized cab roof structure that are highly effective in preventing noise and vibration. There are some sound-reducing panels in the roof area,” Aquaro said.

The cab-cooling performance has been boosted by the use of a high-capacity blower motor and a sub-cool condenser. Cab cooling and heating performance have been increased by optimizing vent positions.

The FK200 (19,850 GVWR) will be standard with Allison 1000 RDS — no manual transmission option — a 36" frame height, and body lengths of 16' to 24'.

Light-duty excitement

Aquaro said the company is excited about its light-duty trucks.

“We put a lot of effort into this vehicle,” he said. “It was a lot of people working hard to get it done. This was a challenging year because we had to meet EPA requirements. We did it a bit differently than everybody else did with the emission-control system.

“One of our missions was we wanted to try to make the diesel particulate filter (DPF) small. We didn't want a monstrosity hanging from the bottom of truck. We didn't want to make it look worse than it is. I'm really happy with our system, and the body builders are happy. We've had absolutely no issues. None of the body builders have even noticed the DPF.

“Our DPF is different. We are the only ones using silicon carbide. Everyone else is using cordierite. Silicon is more fuel efficient — fewer regenerations, cooler running, less service. What will happen in 2010? We think more manufacturers will switch to silicon.”

New and improved on the FE models:

  • 2007 emissions (reintroduced Class 3 with OBDII ). “We didn't have a Class 3 lineup the past few years because we were not able to provide it with the OBDII system that was required in many states. OBDII was under development for us. But we still felt there was a market in Class 3. We sold a truck in this market that was a 14,050-lb GVW Class 4 that was kind of a pinch-hitter for the Class 3 truck. Now we're back into the Class 3 truck.”

  • New front bumper.

  • Cruise control with programmable max speed (in automatic transmission only).

  • PTO control with programmable set speed.

  • New J wheelbase for FE145 (20' bodies with gates).

  • New K wheelbase for FE180 (22' bodies with gates).

  • New engine position (48mm rearward, 23mm upward).

    “It does have an effect on minimum body setback. There's a bit more gap behind the cab. We were running 6" of cab-to-body clearance, and we're now running 7.5". We improved front-axle loading. The cabover truck is traditionally heavy on the front. It's the nature of the beast. The cab is big, the cab is heavy, the engine is sitting there. By shifting the engine back, we moved some of the weight from the front axle to the rear axle, which is a very desirable thing to do.”

  • Increased cooling system capacity and change in radiator position.

  • Reduced frame height by 2". “It was partly to do with the front bumper and partly to engine position. We raised the truck in 2005 to get more air flow under it. The question in getting the engine cooling working in ‘05 with the EPA ‘04 engine was, how do you do it? One of things we did in ‘05 was raise the frame, and we did it with spring packs by adding spacers under the rear and front axles of the truck. We brought the loading height up a bit, which was a bad thing, but brought a lot more air underneath the truck, which was a good thing. This year, with the engine relocation, moving back, increasing the radiator size, with the change of the frame height, we lowered the frame height, opened up the front bumper, brought more air in through the front bumper, under the front bumper, over the front bumper, and essentially reached a goal, which was to get frame back down to where we wanted it to be in the first place. Anything you can do to lower that height and make it easier for the driver is a good thing — less driver fatigue and worker comp claims.”

  • Return of optional tandem-mount auxiliary fuel tanks.

  • Keyless entry.

Automatic momentum

The Class 3 FE125 (12,500 GVWR) comes with an Aisin MY600 six-speed automatic transmission only.

“Customers are buying automatics because of driver retention,” Aquaro said. “Drivers can't drive stickshifts. The country in general is an automatic transmission country. So we made the decision that we're not even going to bother in some weight classes with the manual transmission.”

The company is going to an 18' application in three wheelbases: 114.6", 134.3", and 152.4". There is a standard side-mount fuel tank (curb side), and an optional in-frame tank in all wheelbases.

“The inframe tank is good for certain applications and useless for others,” Aquaro said. “You can build a van body but you can't build a wrecker. You can build a flatbed with it but you can't build a plumber's body. So we feel having the side tank is the safest across the board, then make the other one an option.”

He said the Class 4 emission-control system is EMD (Engine Manufacturers Diagnostic). “It's a different operating system,” he said. “It's similar to OBDII (Onboard Diagnostics, Level 2). It has elements of OBDII in EMD, but EMD is essentially a compromise from the Engine Manufacturers Association to EPA and CARB to allow them to phase into 2010, which will become a different system, OBDHD (heavy duty). Everything but Class 3 will utilize the EMD emission strategy. Then, in 2010, we will shift to another strategy.”

On the FE145 (14,500 GVWR), the company added a 176" wheelbase, which will accommodate up to a 20' body and broaden the range of applications: movers, furniture haulers, etc, who “cube-out” before “weigh-out”.

“We've also seen the trend to get as big a body on as small a truck as you can,” he said. “So we decided to open up Class 4 and be able to go to a longer wheelbase.”

New for the Class 5 FE180 (17,995 GVWR) is the adoption of the 189.4" wheelbase, which permits mounting of 22' vans (with most tuck-under lift gates) and broadens the range of applications.

“There's a need for bigger bodies, and this truck will accommodate that,” he said. “We have rear stabilizer bars on them that are significant, which is helping us to get into bigger body lengths.”

He said air conditioning is standard on all trucks because of market demand from Fuso customers and because it improves driver retention and productivity.

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