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Trucksales Innovation Award 2024: The Winner!


Our judging panel has unanimously voted the Fuso eCanter Next Generation as the winner of the 2024 Trucksales Innovation Award

The latest-generation Fuso eCanter is already in series production and trucks are on their way to Australian customers. We reckon this second generation eCanter makes sufficient technology gains over its predecessors to merit a second Innovation Award.

Daimler Truck and its subsidiary, Fuso, have been at the forefront of electric truck development since most developed countries expressed a need for low- and zero-emissions trucks.

Since its 2017 launch in Japan, making it the first series-produced, all-electric, light-duty truck in its home market, the eCanter has been running in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, with selected fleets, clocking up millions of kilometres in the process. We tested Australian-market models back in June 2021 and in 2023.

Following six years of operational experience, the Next Generation eCanter looks externally little different, but battery, chassis and powertrain developments make the new eCanter an electrically and mechanically different vehicle.

The biggest change is the adoption of an electrically driven eAxle – an electric motor and mechanical final drive – that replaces the previous powertrain of mid-mounted electric motor, prop shaft and conventional rear axle. That change allows for greater battery capacity choice and solves an eAxle packaging problem.

The Next Generation drive axle

In the lead-up to the launch of the latest eCanter, Daimler made no secret of the fact that the Next Generation model would incorporate an eAxle, but its innovative design surprised us.

Rather than having the electric motor bolted to a conventional diff on a rigid rear drive axle, the new eCanter has a chassis-mounted, electric motor and final drive unit, with open half-shafts connected to the rear-wheel ends. Its conventional leaf spring packs are bolted to a U-shaped cross beam that sits behind the power unit.

This rear axle assembly owes its origin to the de Dion rear ends that were popular in pre- and post-World War II sports and racing cars, including the famous Silver Arrows.

Safety and tech

The Next Generation eCanter has enhanced EV functions, including four-level regenerative braking and Battery Pre-Conditioning, which allows the battery to be preheated during AC charging. A Heater Cut Switch cancels cabin blower heating that uses more battery capacity, in favour of heating only the seats and steering wheel.

The Next Generation eCanter also comes with additional advanced safety functions. Active Sideguard Assist, Active Brake Assist LED headlights and daytime running lights, plus LED rear combination lights, and Intelligent Headlight Control.

Active Attention Assist is intended to reduce fatigue-induced incidents, with white line recognition, steering sensors and a facial recognition camera. Driver inattention is signalled by a buzzer and dashboard display.

The Next Generation eCanter features upgraded interior features, with a slightly lower dashboard and a 254mm (10-inch) LCD panel, linked to steering wheel switches.

Fuso’s telematics Truckonnect has EV-specific features for the eCanter. The eRange function that displays the remaining mileage and EV battery capacity, can be tracked on the Truckonnect portal. In addition, the new model has a Charging Management System function that allows operators to set a timer, to charge vehicle batteries when electricity costs are lowest.

In Australia, the limited release first generation eCanter has proved successful in the metro pick up and delivery market and the Next Generation model’s enhanced safety, operating range and varied cab and chassis configurations are expected to generate even more sales.

Story with thanks to Trucksales