Electric Avenue

The latest eCanter is the second generation of Fuso’s offering to the electric truck market.

The original Fuso eCanter was introduced globally in 2017 and in 2021 became the first production electric truck to be offered to the Australian market.

Now the second generation eCanter has an expanded range and has its official Australian release during May, with a full model line-up consisting of 14 variants with four different weight ratings, six wheelbases, three battery configurations, as well as the option of a City Cab or Wide Cab versions.

The optional electric Power Take Off (PTO) further expands the eCanter’s possibilities catering for applications such as fridge bodies, tilt trays, mini mixers and tippers.

Prime Mover experienced the European examples of the second generation eCanters at the factory in Portugal back in 2022, and some examples were on display at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.

The next generation eCanters destined for Australian delivery are manufactured in Kawasaki, Japan.

The most significant difference between the two eCanter generations is the development and implementation of the eAxle, with the electric motor and invertor now incorporated into the rear axle, dispensing with the driveshaft set-up used in the first generation.

Compared with the original format, this eAxle configuration is more efficient and saves weight, and therefore energy consumption, and also provides additional room for the location of the batteries.

The liquid cooled electric motor drives through a single speed reduction gearbox and delivers 110kW of power and an impressive 430Nm of torque.

The two examples of this next generation eCanter we are provided for a pre-release drive around the inner suburbs of Melbourne, have GVMs of 6,000kgs — meaning a light rigid licence is the minimum requirement for drivers.

The Wide Cab (2,130mm) and City Cab (1,700mm) e615 eCanters both have 3400mm wheelbases and are loaded to gross weights totalling 5,160kgs and 5,480kgs respectively, of which approximately 2.5 tonnes can be considered payload.

Despite that weight both trucks demonstrate car-like handling and stability due to their double wishbone independent front suspension and electro-hydraulic rack and pinion steering, combined with a low centre of gravity.

Both test units are fitted with two lithium-ion phosphate battery packs with 83kWh combined capacity.

The modular concept of the batteries lends itself to eCanters also being available with single or even three batteries.

During our test the City cab covered 64.4 kilometres with the information screen showing enough energy remaining to cover another 138 kilometres.

The Wide cab version travelled 57.8 kilometres with 159 kms remaining. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that the suggested 200-kilometre range in this two-battery configuration is inherently both conservative and achievable.

The batteries are thermally controlled using a liquid system that keeps them at their most efficient temperature.

The batteries are covered by an eight-year warranty and Fuso can provide “end of life” management of used batteries as part of a package.

The electric motor and invertor are now incorporated into the rear axle.

Factory battery testing has included water immersion and water jet blasting to ensure the batteries can stand up to real world situations. Light duty electric trucks such as the eCanter don’t require massive upgrades to the electricity charging network which makes the transition from internal combustion power easier.

Both AC and DC charging are provided for, with recharging in just one hour possible with a 100kW DC charger. For customers hesitant to invest in a DC charging station the new eCanter can be charged with common AC power and plugging into a conventional three phase AC power connection will achieve the same result in 4.9 hours.

An important factor in driving an EV such as the eCanter is the conscious effort to maximise battery charge and brake component life by implementing regenerative braking.

The new eCanter has moved away from the more common control wand attached to the steering column usually associated with engine and exhaust braking.

Instead, the eCanter makes use of what would be the gear lever in an ICE vehicle. In addition to selecting forward or reverse directions, the lever also activates the regenerative braking function which has three levels of retardation and operates in a fashion similar to changing down a manual gearbox. The driveline is fitted with a parking pawl similar to what is found in passenger car automatic transmissions and works in conjunction with the electronic parking brake.

Fuso suggest that the regenerative braking selector be left in the ‘off’ position unless the braking function is actually required.

This will allow the truck to ‘coast’ with just the slightest level of retardation when the accelerator is not depressed. LED daytime running lights and taillights support the LED headlights which are 30 per cent brighter than halogen alternatives yet draw less power.

The cab interiors have received a freshen up with quality fabrics and, noted for its “not so squeezy” cab, the Wide Cab version has an Isri suspension driver’s seat. The highlight of the dash is the full colour LCD screen with gauges showing real-time battery charge levels and coolant temperature.

The instrument screen is complemented by a 10-inch touchscreen which controls the audio and navigation systems and includes wireless connection for Apple CarPlay. Most audio and phone functions can also be managed using controls mounted on the steering wheel.

The new generation eCanter comes with a class-leading active safety package including, as standard, Advanced Brake Assist 5 with pedestrian detection using radar and camera technology.

In addition to the Advanced Emergency Braking System, the eCanter has Active Side Guard Assist to detect and, if required, brake for cyclists, pedestrians and cars when the truck is negotiating a left turn.

Other safety features include Stability Control, Lane Departure Warning System, Hill Start Assist and crash sensors which shut off the high voltage system in the event of an accident using a similar system as the other EVs in the Daimler stable including the eActros and the eEconic.

In deference to the eCanter’s almost silent operation, the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System complies with the current European regulations, which is also standard and operates at speeds up to 20km/hr.

The system operates by creating an audible warning for pedestrians in the vicinity of the truck and provides the driver with audible and visual warnings and, in similarity with the Active Side Guard Assist, can also autonomously brake the eCanter to a complete stop if the driver does not respond to the initial alerts.

The Daimler Truck group, of which Fuso is an important member, is clear that it doesn’t rush bringing vehicles to market which subsequently require further developments once they are in the hands of customers.

The broad portfolio of eCanter EVs includes various finance packages including straight sales, and Fuso dealers will provide assistance in the decision process when the viability of EVs is assessed for a customer’s particular application including determining the most suitable recharging equipment and management.

The pioneering eCanter was the first ever series production electric truck to be introduced in Australia and the eCanter Next Gen delivers even more advanced technology which sets new standards in the light duty electric truck.

Fuso ecanter hits the highway.
The second-gen Fuso eCanter on-road.
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