Total cost of ownership (TCO) isn’t just an on-highway, long-haul issue. It’s a concern that all fleet managers have regardless of the truck and application. In the medium-duty world, the application can range from start-and-stop pick up and delivery to construction and landscaping to municipal duties. The one constant is keeping an eye on the bottom line.
“Every fleet owner wants trucks that operate efficiently, reliably and at reasonable cost. And they want unparalleled support from the manufacturer,” said Bill Lyons, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc. vice president, sales operations. “In addition to the cost-of-ownership advantages, we have regional warehousing operations across the country that have maintained fill rates higher than 98% for more than 20 years. We have professional parts and service managers who know the business and are dedicated to keeping our trucks on the street.”
Lyons, who returned to Mitsubishi Fuso last fall, explained that the Fuso Canter, the manufacturer’s flagship medium-duty truck, offers improved fuel economy, as well as a unique frame design offers a very high strength-to-weight ratio, keeping chassis curb weights low while body/payload capacity is as much as 2,200 lbs. higher than equivalent models. Those features ensure that the Canter continues to be a strong player in the growing medium-duty market.
“The medium-duty market continues to grow,” Lyons said. “As with the economy in general, there are segments that are doing very well, and other segments that are still finding their way. Overall, sales are up compared to last year and we expect they will continue to be through the remainder of 2015. With reasonable diesel fuel prices, the break-even point between diesel- and gasoline-engine trucks, in terms of miles driven per year, has remained relatively low, and that always helps us compete against conventional medium-duty makers.”
For Fuso, the best segments have been urban and suburban route delivery and refrigerated delivery. Lyons explained that the Canter has also done well with rental-truck fleets. Additionally, while individual fleet sizes are lower, landscaping and pest control/lawn chemical services firms remain a significant part of Fuso’s customer mix.
Driving trucks forward
As truck equipment continues to evolve to become more efficient, it also becomes more complex. It’s a big reason why Fuso is focusing on driver training and proper equipment operation.
“The bottom line is, as much as we would like to keep truck operation simple, as an industry, we’re now beyond that,” Lyons said. “After treatment systems have become more complex with each EPA/CARB reduction in allowable emissions. Sophisticated computer controls added to the engine, transmission and emissions systems have meant more information available to the driver, but at the same time, it’s meant more potential decisions required by the driver.
“As an industry, we simply can’t expect an untrained person to climb into these trucks and drive off successfully,” he continued. “Drivers need to trained so they understand the systems, how they operate and interact with them, and their role in continuing smooth operation. The benefit to the business is that an educated driver can optimize the lower cost-of-ownership properties inherent in Fuso work trucks.”
Fuso is currently developing materials to help with this training, and will be rolling it out to its customers over the next year. From the Canter’s TCO benefits to being an industry leader in driver training, Lyons believes it will make Fuso an even stronger brand going forward.
“I want to make it the most respected medium-duty brand in the North American market,” Lyons said. “We make trucks designed to provide lower cost-of-ownership for our customers, and we intend to continue to fulfill that promise. We wish to thank our loyal customers and will continue to provide them with the best products and services so that they can provide the best service to their customers.”