Daimler Trucks has opened a Global Hybrid Center in Kawasaki, Japan, to serve as the company’s worldwide hub for hybrid truck development, the company said. Located within the company’s R&D facility at its Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. (MFTBC) plant, it will employ 50 people.

“The establishment of the Global Hybrid Center at MFTBC shows the increasing focus of Daimler Trucks and Mitsubishi Fuso on developing hybrid commercial vehicles,” said Dr. Eike Böhm, MFTBC vp of product engineering, at a ceremony opening the facility. “We believe the market for hybrids will expand more rapidly in the future, given the need to further reduce vehicle emissions as well as fuel consumption. The new center will concentrate our efforts in developing clean, efficient hybrid commercial vehicles to meet market needs now and in the future.”

According to Bohm, the center will serve as the focal point of all hybrid Daimler Trucks division activities, including MFTBC, Mercedes-Benz Trucks and Daimler Trucks North America.

Fumio Akikawa, who works as the director of powertrain development for MFTBC, has been named director of the Global Hybrid Center. It will double the number of its dedicated hybrid engineers to about 35, the company said.

Mitsubishi Fuso has spent more than ten years developing hybrid vehicle technology, making the facility a perfect fit for the center, Daimler said. Among the products Mitsubishi Fuso offers are the fuel-efficient, low-emission Canter Eco Hybrid light-duty truck and the Aero Star Eco Hybrid bus for the Japanese market. The company is also developing the Canter Eco-D, a hybrid light-duty dump truck.

Daimler Trucks and Mitsubishi Fuso also have launched what the companies call Europe’s largest hybrid test fleet. Eight customers in London have received ten Canter Eco Hybrids for a three-year evaluation period of the diesel-electric hybrids. Daimler said the 7.5-ton trucks could consume up to 15% less fuel than conventional diesel while also reducing CO2 emissions.

Among the applications for the test vehicles are stop-and-go delivery in the center of London and longer runs between stores and warehouses. The trucks include hybrid systems with an electric motor and the Euro 4 powertrain of the series-produced 7.5-ton Fuso Canter. They will include a measuring system to collect performance data and will be serviced by two specialized Mercedes-Benz service centers in London.

The eight customers are Amey, DHL, Hill Hire, Ringway, Royal Mail, Scottish and Southern, Tesco and TNT.

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