The number of battery electric trucks coming onto the Australian truck market rises again with the arrival of Foton and in its first foray with Foton, PowerTorque takes one of the new trucks out onto the roads of Sydney and puts it through its paces.
The interest generated by the drive towards zero emission trucking is the opportunity for new players to break into the Australian truck market. All of the brands are at different stages in the development of their alt-power technology some and are able to offer options which the current players may not be ready to launch.
The picture in the light and medium duty truck market in Australia is in this kind of situation at the moment. At the same time these are the market segments are the ones with the most certainty around technology, battery electric vehicles (BEV) are going to predominate.
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.
This time around the offering is purely electric powered and moving into a market segment with a limited number of players and not many of them with a strong history in Australia. This is an opportunity to make better progress than in the past, into a market which is searching for new zero emission product to satisfy its larger corporate clients and their low carbon expectations.
This test drive was an opportunity to see how much credibility the Foton will have for the electric truck buyer and what the experience might be for the drivers making deliveries around our cities in a Foton electric truck.
Early on in the piece Foton was branding the new range under the iBlue banner, but that has since been dropped in favour of the more simple Foton Mobility. The truck on test was the Foton T5 Electric Truck with a pantech body and a one tonne load. The larger trucks will be classified as T6 in medium duty and T10 in heavy duty.
The T5 sits squarely in the light duty segment with a GVM of either 4499kg or 6000kg. The numbers around electric power are going to become more familiar as electric trucks become more common. The single reduction motor is rated at 64kW, with a peak rating of 115kW. Battery capacity is a precise 81.14kWh, while the maximum torque produced is 300Nm.
The hydraulic braking system has discs on the front and drums on the rear, there’s also ABS, EBD and ESC. There is an AEB available in readiness for its mandating in 2025. There’s also lane departure warning, forward collision warning and brake assist included, plus reverse camera and sensors.
Essentially this is a truck with specifications familiar to most small Japanese truck buyers. There are some differences, the cabin size is somewhere in between the Japanese narrow and wide cab, probably closer in size to the wide ones. The steering wheel is a little smaller and the overall feel is like the Japanese trucks from over ten years ago.