At this time, only a few of the main players has an electric truck on offer. This means there is a window of opportunity for others to fill the void, before the likes of Hino and Isuzu get electric trucks on the road.
This is the space at which the new electric trucks on offer from Foton come in, with a product which is reckoned to offer the right specification for Australian light duty truck buyers. We have seen the brand in Australia before, there have been two previous attempts, by two different importers, to introduce Foton into Australia, with a conventional diesel light duty truck. Both had limited penetration.
One of the learning curves around the introduction of electric trucks is the process around getting the thing started. There is not the noise and vibration experienced when a diesel engine fires up, there are normally just a couple of relays clicking and maybe a cooling fan. The only real indication is that the instrument panel comes alive.
The first thing on the Foton is to put your foot on the brake and then turn on the ignition. It goes through its checks once the dash lights up. Now you’re ready to go, handbrake down, put it in drive, take foot off the brake and then hit the accelerator to drive off.
There are economy and power modes available. Obviously power will drain the battery faster, but a typical delivery driver around metro areas will only need economy.
The mirror array is one more often found on larger trucks with a kerb mirror on the passenger side, and, curiously, one on the driver’s side as well.
Setting off down the road, there is a strange humming sound, coming from somewhere which disappears as you get above 30km/h. This is the Low Speed Pedestrian Warning System which tells people around the truck in mixed areas that the virtually silent truck is there.
The entertainment system and information screen in the middle of the dashboard is a local Australian fitting and would be familiar to any driver.
There is an exhaust brake control lever, but there is no engine to have an exhaust. Simply taking the foot off the accelerator brings in regenerative braking. On this test the level of retardation from this regeneration seemed less than experienced on other electric trucks, perhaps an adjustable level of retardation might help improve range and reduce brake wear.