A thoroughbred by name and performance
Cantering, nay, galloping into the arena for Truck Test 2014, is Fuso’s Canter FE 7-136 (4×2) turbo-powered unit. The versatile workhorse is the answer to a stable of applications, including intercity cargo, express deliveries, small, medium and micro enterprises, overnight deliveries, plant hire and more …
Fuso’s brand new, “out of the box” Canter FE 7-136, boasts 100 kW at 2 900 r/min with a torque figure of 370 Nm at 1 600 r/min and, with excellent fuel consumption and high average speed, it is ideal for intercity deliveries.
Duncan Prince, product manager, Fuso Trucks, Daimler Trucks and Buses, South Africa, explains that the reason for entering the Canter FE 7-136 in Truck Test 2014 (this is Fuso’s first time, having not participated in any form of truck test) is to “serve as a benchmarking exercise and to put one of Fuso’s top-selling models in the range, through its paces”, pitted against similarly categorised vehicles in the market.
According to Prince, the Canter FE 7-136 fills the classic medium-duty truck role, where a nominal four-tonne payload is required. “It is also a popular market segment for the other Japanese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and, in the Truck Test; we will see how the Canter stacks up against them. Also,” he says, “given the number of trucks we sell in the medium range, our customers and the medium-duty truck market will be very interested in the outcome of the Truck Test. It will add credibility to the vehicle’s already excellent reputation, as it is a good, competitive truck from the get-go.”
Prince acknowledges that while the test puts vehicles through a variety of scenarios, it is still within contained boundaries. Nevertheless, he is confident that the test will offer an accurate reflection of the Canter’s capabilities: “We will be able to say that, depending on circumstances, there may be different outcomes, but during the Truck Test, this is what the results were.”
He points out additionally that, by participating in the Truck Test, Fuso personnel will be better equipped to answer questions posed by customers relating to speed and fuel efficiency of the vehicle, and he hopes that the outcome will be accurately aligned with the highly respected HTM system used in the testing process. “We’re hopeful that it’s pretty close to what HTM predicts it’ll be,” he says.
The Canter FE 7-136 is a versatile truck, as Prince explains: “Essentially, this class of truck, with a couple of exceptions, is not bought by the traditional truck transport fraternity, as it’s an all-purpose truck. This vehicle is typically the choice of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), such as building contractors, truck rental companies and equipment-hire concerns. They see it as a workhorse, capable of carrying all types of cargo, from cement mixers and lumber to fresh produce, animal feed or livestock from the farm.”
He adds, “It’s not a long-haul vehicle – which is not to say that it couldn’t be – it’s just that it’s not generally used in that application.”
Governmental organisations and municipal bodies are also significant markets for the Canter FE 7-136, as Prince reiterates: “They are not dedicated or specialised operators. In the industry, these types of trucks are called ‘The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker’ vehicles,” he says with a grin.
Truck Test 2014 calls for all competitors to have a van body. As the Fuso Canter FE 7-136 is sold as chassis cab, it will require a customised van body to be fitted, manufactured by a third-party bodybuilder. “Typically, our dealers have the bodybuilders build whatever a customer needs fitted to the chassis cab, whether it is drop-sides, a water tanker or a van body – or anything else specified,” he explains.
As Fuso’s sole driver in the Truck Test, Prince notes: “I have spent a good couple of days behind the wheel of a Canter, because nearly every vehicle we sell I have inevitably driven myself, as I believe that experience is what markets a vehicle adequately and comprehensively.”
He adds, “The Canter FE 7-136 is built to be an easy and simple vehicle to drive, but to ensure that it is driven in a precise manner, to get the best out of it, with the best fuel economy, an experienced driver is essential and,” he elaborates, adding self-explanatorily, with a chuckle, “I’ve had a code 14 licence since I was 22 years old!”
So, being the designated driver for Truck Test 2014 makes perfect sense to take this frisky thoroughbred through its paces and the industry will be watching with interest to see if there is any type of photo-finish, or whether competing brands will finish by a length.
But it’s really not a competition …