Fuso’s big number - No looking back Part:2

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What’s not here but will be in the not too distant future? Fuso’s replacement for the HD 470 premium truck, and it’s a whole new ball game.

Naming rights
Name ideas and marketing slugs have not always gone that well for the Asian OEMs. It’s often a case of ‘yeah we get what it is you’re trying to say but, nah that ’s not really it ’. We were reminded of a UD poster of the 70s portraying a big dump truck proudly exclaiming ‘Attacks tough jobs by storm breezily’. It’s all there but it’s missed the mark by a grammatical mile. Generally speaking, Fuso’s done well over the years. Canter’s a safe one, Shogun’s fine (ironically words from their own culture give us more understanding...Kawasaki Ninja). Names like FV430, and HD470 are extremely safe if not plain old boring. There was a radical and exciting name idea around as the Enduro’s launch was imminent, largely based on a mythical creature that could essentially rip an adversary’s face off with just its spit. But in the end a safe path was sought with a name based on a cunning inference to longevity.

Shortly Fuso will have to decide on the name thing once again with the arrival of the new premium heavy truck range in 2019. In Japan it ’s been around since last year, and over there it’s the Super Great – not much chance of that name here thankfully. Fuso are also prepping a top-of-the-range secret weapon for export markets with the project name Black Panther...getting better, we could live with that. That truck is in the pre-evaluation phase and slightly further down the track than next year’s first arrivals.

Photo: Fuso demonstrate the Active Brake Assist stop from 80km/h. (No styrene cars were damaged in the making of this demonstration.)

Naming new chariots is a tough job and not one we’d envy, but it’s important, particularly so in this case. This new HDT range is the truck Fuso see as critical to spring-boarding them past their most ardent opposition. Here’s hoping the name not only befits the machine’s intention and capability, but also captures the imagination of the potential customers.

Stripped bare
Another thing the Japanese OEMs have been guilty of in the past is replacing a nice-looking truck with a mutt, and of that condition, Fuso/Mitsubishi haven’t been immune. Looks-wise the new trucks aren’t a huge departure. More a refinement. That ’s a good thing because there’s nothing wrong with the looks of the current model. So well done there. In regard to engines, transmissions, cab interior and safety however, the only thing carried over in next year’s arrivals is the Fuso name. Whatever you know, don’t know, like, don’t like about the HD470 Euro, forget it. The cab access issues, the finicky INOMAT AMT, improved in its latest incarnation but still two generations off parent Daimler’s latest automated manuals, are all gone, as is the motor. Erase the scorecard and start afresh.

The new HDTs are a Daimler platform truck designed and built around the three key pillars of efficiency (fuel/ running costs), safety, and comfort. Tuned for the Fuso target applications and market segments, they share mechanical and electrical architecture with other models in Daimler’s ‘A’ truck line-up. If they don’t come bristling with all the latest safety tech, they ’ll be packing a good wad of it. One Fuso New Zealand representative told New Zealand Trucking magazine “we’re accessing package and price and deciding where the right mix is”. That ’ll be an interesting process considering rival UD has just released the new QUON dripping with mother Volvo’s safety add-ons, setting the bar so to speak – and high. If Fuso bring anything less to market it’ll be a risky game, although all going well, they will have one colossal card up their sleeve that many will see as decisive in their purchasing decision (read on).

So, what will we get next year? Well, remember one of those design pillars was fuel efficiency – add that to our ever-increasing hatred of CO2 and you won’t be surprised to hear the heart of the truck is Daimler’s 10.7-litre OM470 engine, with chassis, ECU, and emissions peripherals to suit Fuso’s world. Power and torque will come in two settings: a 290kW (400hp PS) and 2000Nm (1475 lb/ft) torque, and 338kW (460hp PS) with 2200Nm (1622lb/ft) of torque. In both engines the power and torque peaks occur at 1600rpm and 1200rpm respectively, so the sweet operating range has tightened by 300rpm on the old OM457 motor. Focusing on the bigger engine, the torque curve’s nice and flat right out to about 1490rpm, and just at the point where torque starts to depart, the engine’s a hair off peak power. It has an almost identical performance profile to the GH11TD in the latest QUON, with a slightly flatter torque cur ve that makes it a sweet little engine with tenacious characteristics, as our 60 tonne GCM (yes, 60) combo on the Kitsuregawa Proving Ground in Japan willingly showed. The engines are JP17 emissions rated via SCR and cooled ERG, meaning they exceed Euro 6, which is what they’ll be sold as here. Other key features include dual overhead cams, an asymmetric turbo charger, and APCRS (Amplified Piston Common Rail System) that simply means higher pressure injection and better fuel profiling in the combustion chamber, all controlled from a central ECU. On the transmission front it’s great news. Again, beneath the Fuso-isms around gearings and final drive ratios etc. lies the wonderful Mercedes-Benz Power-Torque 3 G330 AMT under the ShiftPilot name. It’s a 12-forward, 2-reverse box with Standard, Economy, and Power modes. Say what you like about more responsive engines, it ’s this transmission that will arguably contribute most in the transformation of the truck’s performance. Two generations ahead of the INOMAT that ’s currently in the heavy Fusos, the lightening shift times will (and do) keep the 11-litre percolating right where it needs to be.

Safety and comfort
Of course, with the transmission comes all the fruit it’s capable of bringing to the party, things like Eco-roll, soft cruise and hill-start assist. It’s just as well the trucks are getting the real deal on the AMT front because gone is the option to tick ‘Manual’ on the order form. Yes, there’s a ‘Manual’ mode on the gearbox, but that ’s far from making it a manual stirrer. Assuming we’re going to get all the safety embellishments, let ’s look at what ’s potentially in the fruit salad. There’s Proximity Control Assist on the cruise, meaning the truck will slow to a stop and take off all by itself in motorway jams. There’s no time limit on that either – dip the throttle slightly or press resume on the cruise and you’re away! Continuing, Active Brake Assist (see video), Active Sideguard Assist (rigids only, on tractors it just bellows at you), lane departure warning, and Active Attention Assist that maps the driver’s face and eyes. Any naughty inattention or seriously descending eyelids result in a poke in the ribs of some description, and an alarm to the boss. Fuso already have the safety upgrade package timelined for 2022, which will see Active Drive Assist, and Auto Stop among other, as yet unannounced, cleverness. In simple terms, wherever you see the word Active assume the truck does something if you don’t. Safety extends all the way to the lights, with the latest LED tech spearing into the night.


Photo: The interior is classy and familiar.

Brakes-wise the Fuso stops short of arriving with discs, but the brakes are upgraded to EBS with ESC (Electronic Stability Control).

The cab is a giant leap forward in an overfamiliar environment. At last a big Fuso you can leap in and out of without being ET. Three beautiful steps and lower grab handles mean you’re there before you know it. Inside it’s a classy act with a definite improvement in materials and fixtures, finished in grey and black tones. Fitting we can’t answer until we’ve pounded the crap out of one over here (which is occurring as we speak – evaluation units are on the ground now). The dash is cleaner with a nice gauge layout split by a central digital telematics display. There’s a lovely wrap housing climate, switch gear and another screen, this time coms/entertainment/ navigation. A smart wheel brings many functions to hand for the driver (when he’s not on the Thames coast road or Craigieburn cutting on the Arthurs that is), and there are steering column wands left and right for indicators, wipers, dip, and AMT control. There’s a new seat with integrated belts, and it is a lot quieter inside. Actually, it’s all extraordinarily familiar? Oh, yep...Benz!

The only thing that irks is the propensity of the Japanese OEMs to bunker the driver and passenger, separating them with a sea of stuff. Yes, it’s not an uber-high cab (we’ll show you why in a bit), but there is plenty of opportunity to give a little more swing and move-about-the-cab-space for those living on board. We asked the question to Rajanand Rao, product manager HDT/MDT trucks. “ The nature of the job here ( Japan) doesn’t lend itself to sleepers as you know them. Drivers will stop and use outside accommodation, or if they ’re waiting at the port or something they ’ll lay back and put their feet up on the steering wheel.” At the end of the day it all comes back to two countries of roughly similar size. One has 4.5 million people with weird infrastructure, and the other 127 million with great infrastructure. W ho’s going to have the most say in cab design?

What’s that up your sleeve Fuso?
What ’s that up Fuso’s sleeve indeed. As we mentioned above it won’t be here when the first new trucks arrive, but unlike UD, the 13-litre hasn’t been ditched from the catalogue and all cred to Daimler for that. Fuso buyers aren’t necessarily MercedesBenz buyers and there’ll be strong interest for a 13-litre HDT in the over 500hp bracket not just here, but also in Australia, Taiwan (evidently), and South Africa (once they get to Euro 6, whenever that might be – Raj thought 2025). While not a lot has been revealed, the good news is it’ll be a proper 500hp-plus motor (520 PS probably), not an extension of a power curve on a graph to hit a number at an unrealistic rpm. It ’ll be based on the OM471 motor we’d expect, which means it’ll have stats we probably haven’t seen on a Japanese truck here before. Obviously it’ll have the ShiftPilot transmission and all that good stuff. That ’s going to be one to watch. Can it get here quick enough? In a word, no.

Talking trucks
Anyone keeping up with our recent articles on Fuso knows they’re pouring huge resources into telematics, monitoring, and data. It adds to the product ’s whole of life value proposition for sure, but probably dovetails nicely with the current internal requirement to collect voluminous amounts of data from alternative propulsion system field trials and the like. Repackaging the R&D tools and selling them helps pay the bills for sure.

One of the real boons in the platform vehicle is the alignment of the electrical architecture with Daimler, allowing a global communications architecture and Common Telematics Platform (CTP). It not only has huge benefits in terms of the Japanese Government requiring cross-brand platooning as part of daily transport life in the near future, but it is also great news for the rest of us.


Photo: The engine descends onto the rails and undercarriage.


Photo: The cab is fitted to the chassis. Right: All done. Clean, crisp, efficient, Japanese.


Photo:  The low roof beam to the left of the truck with the notch cut out. “If we want the super high cab ‘Charlie’ we’re going to have to take to that beam a bit more with the good power hacksaw C’mon.” 

‘ Truck Connect ’ is a two-phased beast. Phase one sees every truck fitted with a CANbus interface delivering information on a widely accepted standard (SAEJ1939) for fleet diagnostics. Fleet managers can tap into data for location, performance, and benchmarking. Phase two is taking that to the next level. At the time of handover in Japan currently, customers are asked if they would sign up to truck related data being harvested by Fuso. Fuso then break down the big numbers, use it, and then pass it back in handy silos. Internally Fuso can use it for identifying weak spots in design, so perfecting the product and the cost to Fuso of fleet maintenance programmes. From the customer’s standpoint, driver scorecards on safety, driver fuel efficiency at both a company and national level, fleet performance data, vocation-specific vehicle data, track and trace, the list goes on. Being a naturally suspicious bunch, the homeland customers aren’t being charged a monthly subscription or anything like that for this information...yet. It’s all about winning trust currently.

One of the real benefits of such technology is reducing downtime for customers. Fuso is already picking up on any parameters that are falling out of whack before it incapacitates the truck. The plan is, parts can be ordered and workshop slots booked, reducing time off the road. There’s no reason in the wide world why all this couldn’t be available to us, probably more so than Australia, given our size.

Behind the wheel and off down the road
There’s not too much you can really glean from a couple of circuits around a test track, but some things were instantly apparent and ticked a lot of the HD’s half-ticked or not-ticked boxes. Firstly, getting in and out...a complete transformation. Secondly, it’s a smooth as silk engine, and in unison with that box the lift-off belied the fact there was an 11-litre motor under the boards, getting 60 tonne up to 80km/h in a time you’d have thought impossible 25 years ago. Of course, the instructors were keen for us to try the hill-start assist, but again the results were breathtakingly smooth, and having journeyed through the Actros launch, totally expected. Third, inside the environment is vastly improved; just the feel, it’s completely different, maybe more a step away than the new QUON is from its predecessor. It’s hard to say, they ’ve both raised the bar on what a buyer should expect from a Japanese truck. The driver’s environment smacks of the mother ship in Germany and that ’s got to be a good thing. And fourth, the safety trinkets. We were treated to a display of Active Brake Assist among others. It’s a bang up-to-date truck that WorkSafe will love you for buying.

“ The new generation HDT will be the ‘Most advanced Japanese truck ever made’,” said Fuso New Zealand managing director Kurtis Andrews. “ The new Euro 6 engine and the ShiftPilot transmission need to be driven to get a true indication of just how good smaller capacity engines, and new generation transmissions, can be. The 10.7-litre OM470 is generating the same power and torque as the 12-litre OM457 in our current model HD, and the transmission is two generations ahead of our current offering. Given this engine has already had a few years under its belt within the Daimler family, we are also expecting to see fairly significant fuel savings.” It ’s lucky for UD they ’ve got a year’s head start – and a shame for Fuso. But Fuso has that wonderful 13-litre 500plus horsepower option that will hit the back of the maul in a year or so like Kieran Read in his finest hour. That truck will round off a formidable offering, able to deliver all things to all people.