Lot to like about Fuso’s hybrid
THE latest version of Fuso's Canter Hybrid has only minor changes on the outside, but huge improvements within. There's an extra tonne of payload, a 3.5-tonne towing capacity, and the updated engine uses less fuel.
The electric motor is smaller, lighter and more powerful, and the best AMT transmission on the road is now part of the package.
Best of all, the price has stepped closer to the standard diesel price, making a hybrid decision as much a smart business one as it is green.
The first Canter Hybrid impressed me from the moment I drove it. Previous hybrids, from other brands, had the engine and electric motor/generator hard-linked together, so that on overrun, the driver enjoyed engine braking as well as battery regeneration. Fuso boffins saw that as diluting the amount of regeneration that could be achieved, so they located the clutch directly behind the engine and ahead of the electric motor.
The clutch actually regulates and controls the hybrid system by engaging and disengaging the diesel engine and/or electric motor depending on whether they are required or not. Together with the high performance, longer lasting, lithium-ion battery, this allows the Canter Eco-Hybrid to take off using the electric motor only, and almost all the energy generated under brakes to go directly to the battery pack.
An Idle Stop/Start system (ISS) stops the engine when the driver hits the foot brake and the truck comes to a complete stop, and it restarts as soon as the brake is released. Given that a large amount of diesel is burnt in cities by idling truck engines, this feature makes a major contribution to fuel efficiency.
As noted above, the electric motor itself is smaller and lighter, but now develops 40 kW of power (up from 35 kW), and peak torque is available from 0 rpm to 2000rpm, an increase of over 400 rpm in range. These upgrades allow the motor to capture and re-use more braking energy. Plus with the motor located inside the transmission, it is oil cooled rather than water cooled.
The battery retains its lithium ion type but has significantly improved internals. The previous battery cells were cylindrical while the new battery cells are laminate in type and flat sheet in shape. The flat sheet shape greatly improves battery cooling which aids longevity. The cells allow faster charge and discharge rates, which means less cells are required. The 72 cells in the new battery achieve similar performance to the previous 96-cell battery. The new battery also includes a "G" sensor to detect a crash and cut battery power.
Overall, the hybrid system components are 40% lighter in this model.
But the base vehicle is a heavier spec, which bumps the GVM up from 6.5 to 7.5tonne.
Most importantly, the new Canter hybrid's towing capability is excellent news for contractors and councils.
But the biggest step-up is that superb Duonic dual clutch AMT. I've previously written that this technology was the most significant of the year when it was released - an AMT that was so close to an automatic you could hardly pick the difference. Tied to the hybrid set-up, it maximizes fuel efficiency and emissions performance by virtually eliminating torque loss on gear changes.
Richard Eyre, General Manager for Fuso Trucks and Buses in Australia said that the new Canter hybrid was a lot more than a truck for a niche group of major fleets with a green conscience.
"It's a truck for the mass market, because the return on investment is significantly enhanced," he said.
He estimates that with this model Fuso has driven the premium for hybrid power down to between 12%- 15% of the price of a pure diesel Canter.
It brings hybrid power well into the scope of a customer who wants to be green and reckons a three to four-year payback period is good business.