Couplings, Foton

Around Our Cities in a Foton 

around our cities in a Foton

A recent test drive was an opportunity to see how much credibility the Foton will have for the electric truck buyer and what the experience might be for the drivers making deliveries around our cities in a Foton electric truck. 

First impressions of the Foton from the driver’s seat are that it’s a typical Chinese truck. It’s quite cramped and if you have three people, it would be cramped. It’s okay for the driver, there’s plenty of room and headroom, plus you can slide the seat back quite a bit, but it’s pretty basic. 

The driver display has speedo on the left, then a lot of data in the middle, on the right, the driver can see the power they’re using. The dial goes up to 150kW, but on hitting the accelerator hard entering the highway, getting the speed up from 60km/h to the 94km/h that the truck is limited to in power mode, it was using over 120kW.

Most of the time if the driver is gentle with the right foot the reading rarely gets over 30 kW. Feathering the throttle a little when going from roundabout to traffic lights, keeps the power use down as the truck is heading slowly into Marrickville in Sydney.

around our cities in a Foton

Apart from the general road noise which is a little bit of wind and the tyre noise. There is also a quiet rising and falling humming as some internal system activates. There is a really nice little controller for the reverse, neutral and drive control, where the gear stick should be.

The star attraction, the thing that really stands out with this truck is the modulation of power, the use of the power, the way it brings power in bringing speed up. It comes on very smoothly. It’s absolutely seamless. Driving along the driver doesn’t get a kick sensation, the truck just works its way up to speed. In Eco mode it will only go to 74km/h, but around the city, you’re not going to go any faster than that anyway. Once you hit the highway, Power mode moves the limit up to 94km/h.

Because of the modulation even in Power mode, it doesn’t give you the power straight away. What it does is it gets you going, and then once you’re moving, then it gives you the power and you really accelerate quite quickly. The modulation is protecting the battery against excessive use. Drivers don’t need to accelerate that fast. 

If the truck has a weakness, the brakes aren’t up too much, they don’t make you feel secure in the way the brakes should. You’re not 100 per cent certain it’s going to stop.

The noise the truck makes under 30km/h can be off-putting, but it does mean pedestrians can hear it coming, a real plus. The array of mirrors does make visibility around the truck excellent.

around our cities in a Foton

It’s got most of the gadgets that you expect from a modern truck. Of course there’s steering wheel buttons, the ones on the left control the radio and you can answer the phone on the right, and set the cruise. 

However, it’s the smoothness of the takeoff, it’s up there and it’s comparable to the eCanter. What the truck needs is to be adjusted so that taking the foot off the accelerator introduces a lot more regeneration for the battery. If this was done, I suspect it would have a positive effect on overall range on one charge.

Sometimes a driver just wants it to freewheel when you take your foot off, but wouldn’t it be better if you could flick a switch and increase the amount of retardation and use these sorts of roads from traffic light to traffic light and use that retardation to recharge?


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