I went to Daimler’s future technology presentation earlier this week. This contained plenty of detail about the company’s EV, hybrid and hydrogen strategies, but – more practically – it also offered the chance to have a go in various of the group’s greener vehicles.
One of which caught my eye: I’m a sucker for a truck. Especially one that has the novelty of wearing Mitsubishi badging at what was basically a Mercedes event; Mitsubishi Fuso was absorbed by Daimler about a decade ago.
As its name suggests, the Fuso Canter E-Cell is an electric-powered commercial, although just a prototype, and potentially a perfect answer to the question that gets asked whenever cutting car emissions in urban areas is suggested: “what about the lorries?”
The Canter is what’s normally known as a seven-and-a-half tonner, by happy coincidence the maximum size of truck you can drive on a car licence, although the E-Cell has a maximum permitted weight of six tons to help maximise its battery range.
Power comes from 500kg of cells mounted under the rear box – trucks aren’t short of space for such things – with the total 48.8kW/h capacity claimed to be good for around 60 miles of urban trundling on a charge. It’s powered by a 110kW electric motor and doesn’t have any gears.
This being the big difference, and the one that made the E-Cell the nicest truck I’ve ever driven. My previous cack-handed attempts to pilot commercial vehicles have taught me that it’s necessary to change gears at least twice as often as in a typical car, often with the result of lots of nasty sounding crunching noises.