Mitsubishi unveils hybrid truck

Mitsubishi Fuso used The Work Truck Show to preview a hybrid work truck.

The new Fuso hybrid electric commercial truck combines a small, clean-burning diesel engine, an ultra-slim electric motor/generator, and advanced lithium-ion batteries in a drive train that also includes a high-efficiency automated mechanical transmission.

The result is a medium-duty truck that achieves up to 30% better fuel economy in delivery applications and also produces significantly less emissions than its standard diesel-only model.

The Mitsubishi Fuso Eco Hybrid will be introduced to the Japanese commercial truck market later this year. The prototype is in the U.S. to help the company gauge interest by potential U.S. customers, so that it can evaluate potential demand in North America.

The Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid features a parallel hybrid system, which couples a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric motor/generator. While the hybrid layout is a new development, the individual components in it are all proven designs.

The hybrid system switches its operational mode according to the driving situation. The electric motor is used to drive the vehicle when starting off. During hard acceleration, both the diesel engine and electric motor/generator power the vehicle. When cruising, the vehicle is driven by the diesel engine only, like a conventional vehicle. When slowing down or braking, the electric motor/generator functions as a generator to brake the vehicle. The generator converts brake energy into electric energy and stores it in the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery for the next moving off or acceleration.

In the Fuso Eco-Hybrid, every time the driver lifts his or her foot off the accelerator, an inverter automatically switches the electric motor/generator into generator mode, feeding electrical power to the batteries. Regenerative braking, as it's known, is at the heart of the HEV's efficiency.

The truck also was shown at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY. It was then immediately loaded onto a Federal Express jet and flown to a showing in Germany.

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