Electric buzz: Fuso eCanter test drive
THE fast-evolving efficiency of batteries and electric engines are giving electric trucks reasonable range, and ever-faster recharge time, although often running behind diesel engines in most ways other than the big one - zero emissions.
Well, that was the case, until Big Rigs was given the opportunity to test-drive the new agile and surprisingly powerful Fuso eCanter at Mitsubishi Fuso's Kitsuregawa Proving Ground, located a few hours' drive outside of Tokyo.
While the concept Vision ONE heavy was still out of reach on the day, Big Rigs was lucky enough to test both the eCanter the Canter for comparison.
The drive came off the back of the Daimler's dedicated electric product brand launch, eFuso.
Despite its shiny new persona, the Canter's all-electric stablemate has already hit the roads in a few countries.
As part of the eFuso push further into the electric realm, the Mitsubishi Fuso Truck Corporation plans to deliver 500 units of the first generation within the next two years.
Large-scale production is scheduled in 2019.
Initially the units will be leased to large-scale delivery companies such as Japan's Yamato and America's UPS.
While it's yet to hit our shores, the Aussie media beat their Japanese counterparts to the punch in the test-drive stakes.
Keeping in mind the eFuso is an urban distribution vehicle, elegance was not expected.
Yet it was certainly delivered during the driving experience.
The standard cab, like its diesel cousin, offers a close-to-the-ground driving position.
The cab lets the driver position themselves in the centre of the action, low and with a good view of the road.
It is ideal for tight city spaces.
Inside, the point of differences between the electric generation and the original were limited to the dash, trading in the traditional fuel dial for a battery gauge.
Illustrating the level of charge in green to eco blue, and embedded in the dash that wrapped around the driver ever so slightly.
The quiet start-up was a shock, absent of a growl or puff the eCanter punctuated the acceleration with an ascending buzz.
This set the scene for the drive.
Unlike most automatic models, the up-change could not be felt when the vehicle picked up speed.
Despite its 7.5-tonne gross weight on the day, lag was also almost non-existent.
The vehicle, without losing any power, picked up pace in the same way you would expect a small plane to, in a straight smooth incline.
The lithium ion battery didn't lag on the slope. With no risk of a motor stall, it negotiated the incline, and stopped and started with ease with a smooth uptake.
Equally on the decline, the eCanter managed with little trouble, on disk brakes.
At the first attempt, the eCanter behaves exactly as you would hope a light electric round-towner would, and then some.
At this stage the model has a top speed of 80km/h, weighing in at 7.49 tonnes with a maximum torque of 390Nm.
We were unable to test the battery life on the day, however makers say the Fuso eCanter has a range of more than 100km and a load capacity of three-and-a-half tonnes.
As one of the first out of the gates among the Japanese manufacturers with all-electric trucks, Fuso has set a standard.
The versatile light truck has a heart of six high-voltage lithium ion battery packs with 420V and 13.8kW each.
According to the makers, that makes for an operating cost saving of 1000 euros per 10,0000km.
The eCanter certainly was the first glimpse at an urbanised efficient future that is undoubtedly on the horizon.
- Length: 5935mm
- Width: 1995mm
- Height: 2195mm
- Weight: 2990kg
- Front axle weight: 1770kg
- Rear axle weight: 1220kg
- GVM: 7490
- Capacity: 3
- Max power: 135kW
- Max torque: 390Nm
- Top speed: 80km/h
- Range: 100km
- Max voltage: 370 volts
- Minimum voltage: 12 volts
- Battery capacity: 11kWh x 6 = 66kWh
- Front and rear: Disc
- Rear brakes: Disc