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Fuso eCanter BEV ‘not here to replace’ diesel
Fuso eCanter BEV ‘not here to replace’ diesel
Fuso eCanter BEV ‘not here to replace’ diesel 06th March 2024 Tags:

FUSO and Mercedes-Benz Trucks are gearing up to launch ‘e-axle’ driven battery electric trucks in Australia, but the models will exist to complement diesel staples rather than replace them. 

A line-up of 14 Fuso eCanter variants is scheduled to arrive Down Under in May and, unlike the lease-only first-generation model, customers of all stripes – from sole traders to major fleets – will be able to purchase one outright if they are happy to stump up “significantly more” than the price of an equivalent diesel Canter.

Speaking to GoAuto during a one-on-one drive of the new Fuso eCanter, Daimler Truck Australia Pacific head of vehicle homologation and future mobility Romesh Rodrigo explained that the company is taking a calculated sales approach with the new model.

“At the end of the day, the way we are approaching it is that this is not here to replace what we have today,” he said.

“The freight task has to keep going and there's no way in the world we can switch to electric super quickly – it has to be a transition.

“The fact of the matter is these vehicles are complementary to the existing fossil fuel fleet.”

With more than eight million kilometres under its belt globally, the first-generation eCanter proved to be a valuable testbed and Fuso Truck and Bus Australia admits to pushing for certain features during development of the new model. 

“Make no mistake, while we don’t design the trucks here (Australia), part of the planning is really significant,” Mr Rodrigo said.

“There's constant interaction between the factory and ourselves, and it's like any battle because we win some, we lose some but in this case we won the majority of the battles that were there.”

According to Mr Rodrigo, the new eCanter was so well-suited for the Australian market that all it needed when arriving locally was a larger head unit with Apple CarPlay and more infotainment functionality.

“That is the only local part that we added of any significance … there’s a small badge we put on the front too but in terms of hardware it’s just the local head unit we put in,” he said.

The first-generation eCanter was only available on a leasing model, with Fuso retaining ownership of the trucks, which it says was in place to test the new model in real-world conditions while protecting its customers from unknown resale values.

“With the first generation, you’ve got to remember we were first into the market,” Mr Rodrigo pointed out.

“We needed to seed and sample it to learn, but also, because it’s the first thing in the market, what’s it like at the end of its life?

“So we basically had them on a lease with a return to the manufacturer at the end, which greatly reduced customers’ exposure at the end of it. 

 “There's a huge amount of learnings that came from those vehicles, and they're still coming because those vehicles are still out there, and all of that is still consistently being fed back.”

The result of these learnings is a second-generation truck that is vastly improved, and Fuso is so confident in the new eCanter that it will open it up for outright purchasing when it launches in Australia during the second quarter of this year.

“The layout is different, the ergonomics are different, the performance is different and we’re going twice as far with the same batteries now,” Mr Rodrigo said.

“It's a huge improvement and that’s why now we’re in a scenario where these things are ready to go out there, we know people will buy them, and they’re going out in higher volumes.”

While Fuso Truck and Bus Australia was not able to confirm wait times for the new eCanter, the model will soon be available at dealers around the country. 

“In terms of investment targeting, this isn’t going to be as specialised and every one of our dealers will be able to sell it,” Mr Rodrigo said.

“We're not only going to go after the big end of town either, and so ‘man with a van’ customers can turn up and buy one.”

Article with thanks to GoAuto.com.au

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