Business

Trucks and buses in Japan going electric

JIJI

Japanese truck and bus makers are focusing more on the production of electric vehicles as the government pushes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Hino Motors Ltd., a commercial vehicle arm of Toyota Motor Corp., plans to launch its first model of a large diesel-electric hybrid truck next summer and will stop selling vehicles powered solely by diesel engines by 2050.

“Hybrid will be the main technology for electrified commercial vehicles for the time being, as they need to balance environmental performance with usability,” said Hino Executive Vice President Shin Endo.

Because commercial vehicles need to carry large amounts of goods and passengers, more batteries are needed to extend driving ranges. But extra batteries weigh the vehicles down and lead to a lower load capacity.

Hino is aiming for its hybrid truck to have 15 percent better mileage than conventional diesel trucks through the use of artificial intelligence. The firm plans to use AI in its vehicles to predict road gradients, allowing batteries to be charged efficiently on downhill sections.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., a unit of German auto giant Daimler AG, plans to release in 2020 a next-generation model of the electric truck it launched last year.

Mitsubishi Fuso President and CEO Hartmut Schick expressed his company’s intention to focus on electric vehicles, saying it has no plans to advance the development of hybrids.

Isuzu Motors Ltd. is slated to launch an electric truck model on a trial basis by the end of this year.

Isuzu plans to commercialize a hybrid bus in 2019 that is being jointly developed by Hino.

Hino is also cooperating with other makers, including Toyota, to promote the development of electric vehicles.

The government has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle by 80 percent by 2050 from 2010 levels.