Hino Motors marked a key milestone in its trial of full electric commercial vehicles, representing significant progress in its pursuit of quieter streets and cleaner air.
For the past six months, three prototype all-electric Hino 300 Series trucks have operated alongside their traditional diesel and hybrid diesel/electric versions in the fleets of two established Japanese transport companies.
Hino Australia Product Planning Manager Daniel Petrovski said the 300 Series electric vehicle prototype's familiar exterior belies the unique architecture of its chassis and drivetrain components. However, the entire architecture of the truck is different including its lithium-ion battery powering an efficient electric motor that actually drives the front wheels.
Mr Petrovski said the front-wheel drive all-electric architecture had surprising benefits in a light-duty commercial vehicle. The batteries sit inside the frame between the axles, where the driveshaft and fuel tank would traditionally reside. The lightweight electric motor sits in place of the diesel unit, and directly powers the front wheels.
He explains that the immense torque of the electric motor and the fact there is no need to maintain idle if the truck is stopped, eliminates the requirement for a traditional gearbox and clutch.
With the entire drivetrain located in the front of the truck, and the power source mid-mounted low in the chassis, the truck body can have an extremely low floor - some 42 centimetres lower than a traditional light-duty truck.
In addition to benefits such as efficient load space and ease of use, the impact of all-electric commercial vehicles on a city environment would be immense. Replacing the internal combustion engine with an electric motor means no hazardous fuels or oils are used for power or lubrication. Electric vehicles don't emit any pollution, which means cleaner air in the cities, and the noise of the 300 Series prototype's electric motor at full load is a fraction of the level of a traditional diesel engine. Electric motors are also more efficient at turning potential energy into power than their fossil-fuel equivalents.
The 300 Series electric prototype sets the bar for clean, green and quiet commercial transport. Since 1993, Hino has had an environmental charter that pushes for continuous improvement of efficiency in transportation, construction, recycling and product. The 300 Series electric prototype is a significant leap forward in that regard.