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A New Generation of Japanese Prime Movers


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Diesel News Australia  /  August 2019

The globalisation of the truck manufacturing industry is leading to improvements in the level of technology available in a new generation of Japanese prime movers. Now it is the turn for Fuso to come up with a heavy duty prime mover loaded with European sophistication, Diesel News takes a prototype for a drive.

It has been a long process as the global giants in truck manufacturing have integrated the various offerings they have available on different continents. Basic technology and trucks have gradually, over the last 20 years, changed from geographically diverse components in trucks to those which are adapted from a basic global platform to suit local conditions.

One of those global truck manufacturers is Daimler, which has developed a series of global platforms in engine, transmission and axles. The first project to come to fruition was the heavy duty engine, known variously as the Detroit DD range and the Mercedes-Benz OM range, and now as the Fuso heavy duty engine.

Another trend amongst these worldwide truck makers is the decision to retain the heavier 13- and 15-litre engines for the European and US-based trucks the companies produce and specify smaller heavy duty engines around 11-litre for product coming out of Japan. We have seen this from the Volvo Group with the UD Quon appearing with an 11-litre as the top power option and the new generation of Fuso heavy duty truck will also use the 11 litre engine in the Heavy Duty Engine Platform (HDEP) as the power plant.

Another trend, which the Daimler Trucks organisation in Australia seems to have decided upon is the testing of vehicles in plain sight, rather than the highly secretive testing regimes favoured by both truck and car makers.

It all started with the introduction of the new generation of Mercedes Benz trucks back in 2016. The all new Benz had been released in Europe in 2012 and was a radical redesign of cabin and driveline, moving from V6 and V8 engines to the straight six HDEP style. This meant the new driveline couldn’t be tested here with the old cabin above it. The engine just wouldn’t fit.

Daimler bit the bullet and carried out the evaluation phase for the new models with trucks which were clearly identifiable as different with a matt black wrap to disguise some of the cabin shape and clearly marked ‘Evaluation Vehicle’. By tying this project in with the marketing build up to the launch of the new truck, Benz gained valuable eyeballs in the run up to the launch and considerable traction in the truck market.

This was followed by the Freightliner Cascadia, another truck which had been on sale elsewhere in the world for some time, in fact, since 2009. The testing in plain sight has been even more obvious with decision to paint the evaluation vehicles in a blue camouflage style, which makes them very obvious when seen out on the highway. The first two are also left hand drive making them even more visible. The actual trucks are expected to be launched sometime next year.

So, when Daimler decided to run an evaluation program for the next generation of heavy duty trucks from Fuso, the obvious thing to do was to make the new prototypes even more obvious. The camouflage style artwork chosen by Fuso is even brighter and even more instantly recognisable than the Cascadia. The bright reds and blues mean anyone can see this is a very different truck from a mile off. 

In fact, visually the new truck doesn’t look much different to the current Fuso heavies and could be run in an evaluation program on the roads of Australia and not attract any attention as being something different. This tells us the ‘camouflage’ is not any form of disguise in this particular case, but more a component of the prelaunch marketing program for the new truck.


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