The all-electric Fuso Canter (eCanter) has arrived in South Africa for local testing, says Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) CEO Michael Dietz.
Earlier testing at the beginning of 2020 of a prototype light-duty eCanter with AB InBev Africa was interrupted by the advent of Covid-19.
“We have to start with this topic on battery electric vehicles in South Africa – and not only this, but fuel cell vehicles too,” notes Dietz.
“We say that we have to offer a balanced portfolio. We’ll still be using internal combustion engines, but we are investing heavily [as Daimler Truck] in zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).”
The eCanter is to be tested within DTBSA, as well as by customers, says DTBSA sales and marketing VP Maretha Gerber.
“We’ll also fully homologate the eCanter.”
“We need to get real data from the real-world environment,” adds DTBSA customer service, parts and downstream VP Ziyad Gaba.
Gerber does not anticipate load-shedding to be a significant deterrent in eventually launching the electric truck in South Africa.
“Some of our customers are already no longer dependent on Eskom for their power supply, but yes, we do hope that the situation improves over the next three years.”
Dietz says Daimler Truck has found that transitioning to ZEVs may appear daunting at the beginning, but that customers worldwide have managed to find and implement solutions as they phase ZEVs into their fleets.
“In South Africa, our customer base is very innovative and very knowledgeable, so we can get that done here too.”
Gerber says “part of the journey” is to determine whether DTBSA’s plant in East London could potentially assemble electric trucks, as local assembly allows for a significant duty reduction.
“Local assembly not only has pricing benefits, but also employment benefits.”