There was something very apt about Mitsubishi FUSO choosing the Maropeng Visitor Centre in the heart of the Cradle of Mankind World Heritage site for the October launch of its new range of trucks.
I say this because it is at this centre that one comes to fully realise that advancement and progress , and indeed survival itself – comes about from adapting to changing circumstances. Let’s go back in time’¦ It was about 7-million years ago that early hominids (your and my ancestors) began to adapt to a climate that was cooling globally. Africa had up to then been mostly covered in rainforest but as the temperature cooled and dried, savannah grassland started to replace the forests. This meant that tree-climbing apes had to become more adept at walking on land. If they didn’t do this, they would die.
Although there must have been some stubborn old sods who preferred just hanging around the trees talking about the meaning of meaning, those who did adapt were able to walk out into the savannah and gather roots, shrubs and the occasional animal carcass. This ensured that those who walked on two legs were more likely to survive as they could now fetch and carry food to and from where it was most needed. It’s a simple lesson , adapt or die. Looking back 7-million years ago, if mom and dad hominid hadn’t adapted, you and I would not be here today.
Given all this, I found the theme for the launch of the new models, namely, The Evolution of Fetch and Carry, most pertinent.
Going through the various model changes and spec sheets, it is clear that a huge amount of thought went into adapting the various models to suit changing circumstances and customer needs In the medium to heavy segment, you have the Mitsubishi FUSO FK/FM series where, depending on the model derivative, new common rail turbo-charged engines rated at 240 and 270hp are employed. These engines, all Euro 2 rated, are quieter and cleaner burning than the previous mechanically fuel injected range.
The result of this improvement says Duncan Prince, product manager, Freightliner/Fuso Division of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, is that when run on the same road with the same payload at the same speed, improvements in fuel economy of between 3 and 5% can be expected on some models over their predecessors. Isn’t it ironical that 7 million years ago our ancestors had to adapt to survive an era of global cooling. Now we’re facing global warming and have to adapt our ways to survive this era. Improving fuel economy is one contribution the trucking industry can make to counter this threat ,and Mitsubishi FUSO is fully behind this move.
As Ian Riley, divisional manager, Freightliner/FUSO division, says: “We are committed to working in harmony with the environment and are committed to cleaner diesel engines, low fuel consumption and reducing noise pollution.’
The big news in the FK/FM model range is that for the first time, FUSO in South Africa is offering a double cab model – the FK 10-240 – a 10 400 kg model with seating for a driver plus six passengers. “This is ideally suited to breakdown operators who will be able to put the broken down vehicle on the back and accommodate up to six passengers in the double cab,’ says Prince.
Prince and I were walking from model to model discussing the changes and adaptations to each and this FK 10-240 double cab served as a prime example of meeting the changed needs of customers. Apart from legislation now prohibiting the carrying of tools and crew in the same compartment, the dignity and comfort of workers also has to be taken into account by employers. In municipality type work, workers were in the past merely shoved on the back of a truck along with all the tools and often arrived on site sopping wet from the rain. That’s just not on anymore and this double cab will now ensure that everyone stays not only dry but also safe.
Moving up to the ‘˜big ‘˜uns’ the new Mitsubishi Fuso FP/FV range of extra heavy commercials embraces the over 16-ton gross vehicle mass (GVM) trucks, offering operators five models for varying heavy duty transport applications. The models, available in 4×2 or 6×4 configurations depending on application, range from 17,9 tons to 26 tons GVM and up to 56 tons gross combination mass (GCM).
The FP/FV range has also undergone an upgrade in the engine department and is now offered with 350 and 420hp engines. The pertinent point to note here is that the introduction of FUSO’s first 420hp engine into the local market opens up a new avenue of opportunity for the company. “The previous model had a 340hp engine and could only pull a tri-axle. With the FV 26-420 truck tractor, we are now able to enter the top end of the long haul market where interlinks are the norm. This is exciting news for operators and for us,’ says Prince.
Needless to say , as this must surely be a modern day given , all models are equipped with new modern cabs that offer improvements in driver comfort and ergonomics. Air conditioning is now standard fitment on these models , and so it should be.
There are many more refinements and enhancements which space does not permit us to go into. In my opinion though, add these models to the Mitsubishi FUSO Canter range which was upgraded in February this year and Mitsubishi FUSO has now arrived as a very serious contender in all sectors of the market. All that’s missing is an automated gearbox.
C’mon Japan. You’ve got it. Let us have it. It’s all good news for operators. It’s all good news for South Africa.