This year’s Japan Mobility Show promised a lot but was a lacklustre display in comparison with  what was formerly a major global auto expo, under its old name of the Tokyo Motor Show.

From a commercial vehicle perspective the displays were noticeably smaller and fewer this year, four years after the last Tokyo Show, with  the 2021 expo being cancelled due to Covid.

None of the Europeans were at the show with neither Volvo or Scania with a presence as they have had in the past and the purchase of UD meant that it no longer had a stand of its own, instead it had a place on the stand of its new owners, Isuzu.

With  just three major truck stands, Isuzu, Hino and Fuso the displays all emphasised the move to zero emission with battery electric taking centre stage and even modular battery swap systems being proposed by both Isuzu and Fuso. Perhaps under financed Aussie start up Janus’s idea does have some validity!

Isuzu stand at the show carried a theme  of a ‘mobility society,’ showcasing a  range of emerging and contemporary mobility technology, including the  battery-electric advancements, a joint venture hydrogen fuel-cell prototype developed in collaboration with Honda, and some clean internal combustion improvements.

One interesting display on the Isuzu stand a potential fast turnaround battery swap system, which the company has called e-Vision Cycle Concept.

Isuzu said that four dominant themes are underpinning its overarching approach to future product development – carbon neutrality, driver comfort, safety and connectivity – which were all featured heavily across the stand, signalling a brave new era of transportation for the brand and its customers.

The Isuzu heavy duty Giga Fuel cell truck which uses a Honda fuel cell and which was jointly developed with Honda, was a stand out on the Isuzu stand.

The heavy-duty Giga Fuel Cell truck was on display for the very first time, with both Isuzu and Honda having worked on it since 2020. Both companies strongly back hydrogen fuel cell (FC) technology as the ideal solution for heavier loads over longer distances.

Isuzu says that production models are slated for 2027, as the pace of Fuel Cell as genuine heavy-duty solution continues to gather pace.

Of key interest for the Australian market at the Japanese Mobility Show was the  both the new Isuzu N Series and its electric sibling the N Series EV, or as they are known in Japan the ELF.

The new N-Series ( covered in more detail in separate story) is the first major model upgrade for the popular light duty range since 2017 and promises to help Isuzu defend its long held dominance of the light duty sector in Australia.

Isuzu expects the updated  N-Series to be on sale down under in late 2024 or early 2025 with the new trucks featuring a newIsuzu developed 9-speed AMT gearbox  upgraded engines, more safety features and a much improved cab styling , both inside and out.

The new N-series EV shares a common platform with the ICE powered siblings  and will be  Isuzu’s first mass-produced Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

Isuzu’s introductory zero emissions vehicle, the N Series EV is poised to be made available in a range of model variations and numerous configurations to help meet customer demand.

The purchase of UD from Volvo has given Isuzu not just a new brand  to add to its portfolio, but also gave it an all new cab for its heavy duty Giga, with the Japanese domestic market now having an Isuzu version of the Quon offered to buyers.

One Truck that raised some eyebrows on the Isuzu Group stand was then UD Quon, equipped with a 530hp version of the Volvo Group 13 litre. The speculation began as to whether  the Isuzu will be able to offer that powertrain for sale in Australia as an Isuzu. This is particularly sensitive given Volvo retained distribution for UD in Australia despite having sold the brand.

Isuzu sells the 13 litre 530 hp version in Japan as an Isuzu Giga EXY and if Isuzu Australia can get hold of the same truck, it will give it a prime mover  that could potentially enable it to battle it out for leadership of the Heavy Duty market. At the very least it will give it a weapon to counter the success of Fuso’s Shogun 13 litre 510 hp model which has won the brand some significant market share gains in recent times. Those negotiations won’t be easy.

Across at Fuso the headline act was its all new Super Great , or Shogun, as the Fuso heavy flagship is known in Australia. ( see separate story).

The new Shogun has a more Mercedes Benz feel to it  in terms of exterior styling ad interior design  and Japanese buyers will get  the option of the Daimler family 13 litre engine, a concept pioneered and championed by Fuso Australia, but which is not offered in any other market, apart form New Zealand at the moment.

Fuso would not be drawn on when we will get the new Shogun but it is likely in early 2025 as we understand it.

The new generation Fuso e-Canter was on the stand although it has been around for a year or so and is already in production in Portugal and Japan, with trucks being trialled in Australia shortly and sales set to begin in late 2024 or early 2025.

The eCanter will feature an e axle instead of a central electric motor and prop shaft  and benefits from the product development on the first gen eCanter, delivering some significant performance improvements.

Five years after the first gen model the eCanter has had a major evolution, with a significant expansion of body variations and improved driving range.

To showcase the widened body variations Fuso displayed an eCanter with a tipper body, made possible through the new model’s addition of a power takeoff device (ePTO). It also showed, an eCanter fitted for garbage collection with a specially prepared, futuristic design.

Fuso also showed the fruits of a collaboration with US company Ample. The two companies have been collaborating on a pilot project on battery-swapping for electric trucks, using the newest eCanter model. The two companies say they will install an eCanter with modular batteries that can be automatically exchanged at Ample battery swapping stations, a process that is eventually targeted to take 5 minutes they claim.

The test vehicle’s trial on public roads is scheduled for this winter in Japan.  They showcased the latest eCanter model with a swappable battery module, and the swapping station.

The Hino stand was the least impressive of the three Japanese truck groups  with a Hydrogen fuel cell 700 Series/Profia, its first battery electric 300 Series light duty and not a lot else.

Hino showed a BEV 300 series. Model with an ultralow floor structure with a chassis exclusively for battery electric models, sayin it makes it easier to handle cargoes and get in and out of the vehicle, reducing the burden of drivers.

This light-duty battery electric truck is aimed at last-mile delivery and zero emissions at high levels and the Toyota subsidiary showcased a walkthrough van as well as an aluminum van.

Profia /700 series Z Fuel Cell  Vehicle Prototype, was developed collaboratively  with  Toyota using its Mira’s fuel cell and Hino says it is proceeding with plans for putting it into trials in the near future. The 25 tonne rigid  6×4 is said to have a range of around 600km with a new large-capacity high-pressure (70 MPa) hydrogen tank developed for the truck, providing the hydrogen to the Toyota Mirai fuel cell stack.

Apart from the truck makers there was very little else in the commercial vehicle realm on display at JMS, save for some micro ‘trucks’ on the Daihatsu stand, a LandCruiser 79 on the Toyota stand, and the newly updated Triton Ute on the Mitsubishi stand as well as some electric vans from several little known Japanese ZEV start ups.