Mitsubishi Fuso re-enters Class 3 market, makes major ’08 changes

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America this week announced its 2008 model year lineup, including the Class 3 FE 125 low-cab forward truck that gives the company a Class 3 offering once again. Mitsubishi Fuso had dropped a Class 3 offering in 2005 because it was not ready to offer the onboard diagnostics required. The new FE 125, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 12,500 lbs., now is equipped with OBD II, allowing it to be sold throughout the United States.

In another significant change, Mitsubishi Fuso is offering only automatic transmissions on the FE 125 as well as on its Class 4 FE 145 (14,500-lb. GVWR). Although the move is significant in that the company is foreclosing the option for a manual transmission, in reality only a few buyers were spec’ing manual transmissions anyway, says Robert Aquaro, vice president of product assurance. In fact, automatic transmissions are growing in popularity even in the larger Class 6 and 7 FK and FM models, Aquaro said at a press event Tuesday, June 12. In another nod to the reality of the marketplace, air conditioning is now standard on all Fuso trucks. The change improves manufacturing quality by incorporating air conditioning into the routine assembly process, Aquaro says.

On the FE 125 and FE 145, cruise control will be standard in 2008 along with the automatic-only transmission option. The cruise control will be programmable by the dealer to customer specifications, allowing the owner to set top speed whether or not the cruise is engaged. Other changes in the lighter-duty models, which also includes the Class 5 FE 180 (17,995-lb GVWR), are a programmable power take-off (PTO) and an on-off switchable exhaust brake. A new bumper also reduces weight and improves airflow. And the trucks offer keyless entry for drivers.

The FE 125 offers body lengths to 18 feet. With new wheelbases, the FE 145 and the FE 180 offer body lengths up to 20 feet and 22 feet, respectively.

The medium-duty models – Class 6 FK 200 (19,850-lb. GVWR) and FK 260 (25,995-lb. GVWR), and the Class 7 FM330 model (32,900-lb. GVWR) – represent more extensive changes for 2008 than its lighter-duty siblings, Aquaro says.

All three models have lower frame heights than previous models. The FK 200 offers body lengths of 16 to 24 feet, which the FK 260 can be fitted with bodies of 16 to 30 feet. One major change on the FK 260 from its predecessor is that it is fully equipped with air brakes. The FK 260 also is available with air suspension that can lower the truck an additional 2.5 inches.

The cabs on all the Class 6 and Class 7 models offer improved aerodynamics, with a 4 percent improvement with van bodies installed and a 25 percent improvement with flatbeds and other low-profile bodies installed. Flush-mounted headlights also reduce drag, and an air dam under the front bumper prevents air from splitting over the front axle, further reducing aerodynamic drag.

The medium-duty models also feature major cab interior enhancements, principally aimed at improving driver ergonomics and comfort.