Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mitsubishi Fuso Launches Cleanest Light Truck in the World

The new Fuso hybrid electric commercial truck combines a small, clean-burning diesel engine, an ultra-slim electric motor/generator and advanced lithium-ion batteries in a drive train that also includes a high-efficiency automated mechanical transmission. The result is a medium-duty truck that achieves up to 30% better fuel economy in delivery applications and also produces significantly less emissions than its standard diesel-only model.

Logan Township, NJ — In the continuing quest for vehicles that provide improved fuel economy and lower emissions, while still providing rugged reliability for day-to-day work, Mitsubishi Fuso has developed a unique hybrid electric vehicle (HEV).

The new Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid features a parallel hybrid system, that incorporates the company’s latest advancements to deliver ecologically responsible, economical performance. The Canter Eco Hybrid couples a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric motor/generator in an effort to improve overall vehicle efficiency.

While the hybrid layout is a new development, the individual components in it are all proven designs. The small, efficient, 123 hp turbocharged diesel engine is the same one utilized in conventional medium-duty truck service in Japan for several years. This proven diesel is coupled to an ultraslim 47 hp brushless permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor/generator. It, too, has been field-proven in a number of applications. And, finally, power from both the diesel and electric drives is carried through a Mitsubishi Fuso Inomat II automated mechanical transmission similar to the ones that have been used in Fuso Class 8 trucks for a decade. Together, these proven components form the drivetrain of the Canter Eco Hybrid.

The hybrid system switches its operational mode according to the driving situation. The electric motor is used to drive the vehicle when starting off. During hard acceleration, both the diesel engine and electric motor/generator power the vehicle. When cruising, the vehicle is driven by the diesel engine only, like a conventional vehicle. When slowing down or braking, the electric motor/generator functions as a generator to brake the vehicle. The generator converts brake energy into electric energy and stores it in the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery for the next moving off or acceleration.

Contrast that with a conventional truck. Stopping it requires a braking system that will convert the truck’s kinetic energy (its forward motion) into heat energy that is ultimately dissipated into the air via the brake pads and disks. All of that heat energy is wasted. The next time the truck accelerates, it has to burn more fuel to do it.

In the Fuso Eco-Hybrid, every time the driver lifts his or her foot off the accelerator, the diesel engine is taken offline (that is, the clutch is disengaged), and an inverter automatically switches the electric motor/generator into generator mode, feeding electrical power to the batteries. With this scenario, instead of converting the kinetic energy of the truck into waste heat, it’s converted into electrical energy that’s stored onboard, and then re-used by the electric drive motor.

It’s this regenerative braking, as it’s known, that is at the heart of the HEV’s efficiency. It’s the equivalent of pouring some diesel fuel back into the tank of a conventional truck every time it slows or stops.

“The Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid demonstrates the potential for combining environmental performance and efficiency in an alternative drive vehicle,” said Bob McDowell, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America (MFTA). “This vehicle shows the technological capabilities and environmental dedication associated with the Fuso brand.”
The Mitsubishi Fuso Eco Hybrid will be introduced to the Japanese commercial truck market later this year. The prototype is in the U.S. to help the company gauge interest by potential U.S. customers, so that it can evaluate potential demand in North America. The truck is being shown at the National Work Truck Show in Atlanta, GA, and at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, both in March 2006.



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