The company behind brining Foton electric trucks to Australia has announced it will be adding another line of electric commercial vehicles to its portfolio with the Asiastar brand of all-electric vans, cab chassis light trucks and buses set to be launched in Australia.
At the heart of the offering, which will be distributed by Foton Mobility is what the company claims is the largest battery size available in the van segment on these shores, paired with an eAxle, with the drive motor is mounted directly to the rear axle, providing fleets with an attractive proposition in terms of range and payload possibilities.
By virtue of eliminating the propeller shaft and other components, the intuitive packaging of the eAxle provides a weight saving of around ten per cent, while the removal of various components from the driveline improves efficiency by five to ten per cent.
Foton Mobility says that the offering has been tailored to cater to last-mile deliveries, trades and construction companies, local government use, community transport, aged care, and patient transport, as well as for integration into rental companies.
According to Foton Mobility, Asiastar was founded in 1949 and is a subsidiary of the Weichai Group, which is ranked 18th in China’s top 100 multinational companies, with a global workforce of 100,000 and an annual revenue of AU$65 billion.
Foton Mobility Distribution will import the Asiastar range and will provide full support through its nationwide network of dealers and service partners.
“It’s an exciting time to be bringing the Asiastar product to Australia, with the brand providing a range that is truly in demand by the local market,” said Bill Gillespie, Foton Mobility Distribution’s general manager of light duty vehicles.
“In Australia, commercial vehicle buyers are now looking to all-electric solutions to meet their environmental mandate, and through Asiastar, we have a comprehensive range that are proven performers, which simply make financial sense.
“The electric van segment is truly underserviced locally, and with the innovations we are bringing to the market with our leading battery size, range, and eAxle configuration, we know that this will be a hit.
“From a price standpoint, the cab chassis version starts at under $90,000 excluding GST, which really brings down one of the main barriers to converting to EV.
“Asiastar is making big inroads in their various markets around the world, and we are working closely with the factory and our local upfitters to be able to provide off-the-shelf and tailored solutions that will cater to any application.”
The company says that the Asiastar products it will make available from launch will be a 70kWh and 105.6hWh van and cab chassis, while the bus variant will be available with the larger 105.6kWh battery, fitted with 12 seats or no seats, for configurations that require bespoke fit-outs.
It says that the 105.6kWh battery is supplied by leading global manufacturer CATL, with the system running to 500 volts, while under the bonnet, a three-in-one MCU, PCU and DCDC unit control power supply to the vehicle.
Meanwhile, Foton says the eAxle motor can provide a peak torque of 3,890Nm, and a peak power rating of 140kW, with its compact packaging allowing space for the larger battery packs.
The company says that with the estimated driving range of 300km for the larger battery, the platform is perfectly suited to the rigours of stop-start city traffic, while the standard suite of safety features includes ABS braking, autonomous electric braking, electronic stability control, lane departure warning and a reversing camera on the van and bus.
All of the Asiastar products will have a 4,500kg GVM and are capable of being driven on a car licence according tot he new distributor.
The van can haul a maximum payload of 1,480kg within its 10.5m3 cargo space with the market topping 105.6kWh battery fitted, while the smaller battery, the van is rated to a top payload of 1,700kg.
The company claims the cab chassis variant, meanwhile, allows for complete customisation of the cargo area of the vehicle, for a Pantech body, a tray, or any other combination. An 1,870k payload is possible with the smaller battery fitted, a, while the larger battery allows for 1,650kg.
The 12-seat bus configuration meanwhile features a manual folding step and a fixed handrail, with the passenger seats finished in either cloth or vinyl, resulting in a 1,250kg payload.
Foton Mo0bility says the Asiastar range will be backed by a five-year or 200,000km warranty, with the main traction batteries enjoying an eight-year or 300,000km warranty, while 24/7 roadside and phone support will be provided by NTI Truck Assist.
Outside of the competitively priced base vehicle, the platform’s total cost of ownership figures stack up via the elimination of fuel expenses, with extended 30,000km service intervals complimented by the low requirement for ongoing consumables.
Foton Mobility says that the Initial stock for the range has now landed in Australia and will be expected in dealerships in during the first quarter of this year (2024).