A Fuso FE160 attracts some attention.

eCanter is a different animal for body builders

Dec. 8, 2017
Coverage from the recent NTEA Truck Product Conference, a look at the critical details of new and coming-soon equipment from the chassis manufacturers, and what the changes mean for upfitters and truck body builders.

The 2018MY is basically a carryover year for Mitsubishi Fuso, so most of the questions addressed the new eCanter all-electric medium-duty truck and how body builders will deal with it.

“We will certainly be providing safety instructions as far as handling the truck goes,” said Leighton Good, manager of product applications. “For this debut, we provide a decommissioning procedure to power down the high-voltage system before any work is done on the truck. The truck uses standard European-developed protocol as far as identifying high-voltage circuits. The truck does have a 12-volt system in addition to a 360-volt, high-voltage system. The 12-volt system is because all accessories are still 12 volts.

“What everyone needs to be aware of is its new technology. Body applications will generally be the same as far as body sizes go. Certainly there is less real estate on the truck for the mounting of equipment. We went to the standard grid-style frame with holes from the back of cab and end of frame that are in a 40 mm-by-50 mm pattern. Almost every one of those holes seems to be occupied now that we have a new, lighter truck. There are still places where equipment can be mounted by using standard U-bolts. We do have available now, from Fuso Japan, a vertical and horizontal style bracket that can be used at either the 40mm or 50 mm spacing. We’ve been able to mount the first four trucks without using any U-bolts.”

The eCanter has been touted as a zero-emission, zero-noise truck that will help transform urban areas “into cleaner and quieter places for everyday deliveries.” The eCanter underwent extensive customer trials conducted in Portugal and Germany between 2014 and 2017. In comparison with a conventional diesel truck, the OEM said it offers savings up to $1890 per 10,000 miles on operating costs, along with “significant” reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The eCanter has a range of 60 to 100 miles and a load capacity of two to three tons, depending on body and usage. The vehicle’s electric powertrain contains six high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs, rated 420 volts and 13.8 kilowatt/hours each. The battery packs are being delivered from Daimler subsidiary Accumotive in Kamenz, Germany.

“We’re very excited about this truck,” Good said. “At 16,000 GVW, it’s a little bit heavier than our standard truck. It’s about 900 pounds heavier, due to the batteries.”

The company said it is planning to deliver 500 units of this generation to customers within the next two years. Larger scale production is intended to start in 2019. At its global launch, Fuso announced that UPS is the company’s first US commercial partner for the eCanter. UPS said it will place in service trucks to build on UPS’s Rolling Laboratory fleet of more than 8500 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

“Short-series” production for the US market began earlier this year at the OEM’s factory in Tramagal, Portugal. The eCanter is produced alongside the conventional Canter “light” medium-duty unit at the Tramagal plant. Only the electric-powertrain-specific components will be installed in specific boxes along the production line.

The all-electric eCanter units coming from Tramagal were handed over to customers within Europe and the US starting in August.

Later this year, that same plant will produce components for the new Fuso FE Series Gas trucks, which will be assembled in the US.

Fuso’s FE130, FE160, and FE180 will be powered by a PSI-GMPT Vortec Series 6-liter V8 engine, coupled with an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission. The new V8 engine models will be the first Fuso vehicles to be assembled in the US.

The gas truck will be offered in Class 3 and 4, and as the industry’s only Class 5 gas-powered model, the company stated. Customer trials for the new FE Series gas trucks began in the fourth quarter, with full-market launch to follow in 2018 as 2019 model year.

While the new VortecV8 represents a robust new powertrain for the company, it has adapted the drivetrains to its standard cab-chassis configurations, so customers and upfitters will find the same familiar 33.5-inch-wide frame, same body attachment capability, wheelbases, cab-to-axle dimensions, and box sizes as they’ve had with turbocharged diesel cabovers.

“Externally, it is not so much different,” Good said. “It uses the same cab wheelbases and frame. But it does have a 6-liter, V8 gasoline engine. There are a lot more broader applications as far as PTOs go and as far as speed and torque capability.”

The company is partnering with Morgan Corporation and Daimler Truck Financial to offer lease and purchase programs for its 2017 Fuso FE160 Class 4 medium-duty cabover truck with a 151˝ wheelbase and 16´ Morgan aluminum dry van body.

Dubbed the FUSOComplete Program, it offers customers a Fuso FE160 Series truck with 15,995-lb GVWR and 10,490-lb estimated body/payload, through either a 36- or 48-month lease, or a direct, no-down-payment purchase with 36- or 48-month financing terms.

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