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Road Test: Fuso eCanter

Fuso has launched the first production, full electric, 7.5-tonne truck in the eCanter, says Dan Gilkes.

SECTOR Light Truck   POWER 180bhp   Gross weight 7.5-tonnes   CO2 Zero

Fuso eCanter
Fuso eCanter

Fuso, the Japanese division of Daimler Trucks, has launched the full electric eCanter, said to be the first series production 7.5-tonne electric truck. Already on sale in both Japan and in North America, the first eight eCanters in the UK have been delivered to three customers. Logistics firm Wincanton has added five of the electric trucks to its 3,600-strong delivery fleet and will operate the eCanters in and around London. Flour milling company Hovis will run two eCanters, while parcel delivery firm DPD has taken one.

The compact eCanter is powered by six 420V, 13.8kWh lithium-ion batteries, driving through a permanent magnet motor. This provides 180bhp (129kW) through a single-gear transmission in the rear axle, with an operating range of around 62 miles. That said, Fuso will upgrade the performance of the batteries to provide up to 112 miles of range over the next six months.

The 7.5-tonne eCanter offers a body and payload capacity of around 4.5-tonnes, so there is no loss of payload versus its diesel counterpart. With the batteries mounted below the bodywork there is also no loss of load volume. Fuso claims that each eCanter will save up to 16-tonnes of CO2 in a single year of operation, depending on electrical supply. Operators can expect to see cost savings of around £875 for every 6,200 miles of use, compared to a diesel truck, thanks to 75-80% lower service costs with no oils and filters and fewer moving parts than a diesel truck.

This is of course countered by a higher purchase price, though Fuso claims a 2-3 year payback is possible. What’s more, this difference in price will continue to shrink, as battery prices drop further. The company predicts that battery pricing will fall by as much as 70% by 2030 and as soon as 2025 many electric vehicles will in fact be cheaper to buy and run than their diesel counterparts.

“Today is an historic day for London’s transport operators,” said Mike Belk, Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks managing director in the UK.

“By the middle of the next decade, 25% of the vehicles we sell will be electric. We will be launching 15 e-vehicles over the coming years, including eVito, eSprinter and eActros 18-26 tonne trucks.”

Fuso aims to sell up to 500 eCanters in the next 18 months globally. Updates will arrive next year, to improved battery capacity and range and the company expects to sell up to 1,000 trucks a year in 2019. By the launch of the third generation eCanter in 2021, the company expects sales to rise rapidly, to 5,000, 10,000 and eventually 15,000 a year.

Fuso launched the Canter Eco-Hybrid in 2006 and trialled the Canter e-Cell in 2014.

“Fully electric trucks are no longer science fiction, we at Daimler are already manufacturing them and now we’re putting them into operation with well-known customers,” said Mr Belk.

“We’re pleased to build on our relationships with DPD, Hovis and Wincanton in this way, as they clearly believe the Fuso eCanter is a viable proposition for their urban distribution business.”


What we think

The eCanter is the first step towards full electric urban truck deliveries and, if the range and operating costs stack up, could be an effective alternative to a regular diesel model.

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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