Now, the future, and the race against time Marc Llistosella – president and CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation

In News, Fuso8 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 9, 2018

Marc Llistosella, who steps down from his role as CEO later this year, visited New Zealand this week and took time out to meet with journalists to talk about Fuso‘s current projects and what‘s just around the corner in both a micro and macro landscape.

Llistosella has held a number of roles in Fuso parent Daimler since starting in 1994, and has been in his current position since 2015. Feathers in his cap include spearheading and establishing the Daimler India Commercial Vehicles operation and overseeing the launch of e-Fuso, the world‘s first global brand for mass-produced electric trucks and buses. Accompanying Llistosella on the trip was Ilan Elad, director Region 2 global sales (that region includes us, obviously), and Florian Laudan, head of communications for Daimler Trucks Asia.

Fuso NZ managing director Kurtis Andrews said it was possibly the first time a Fuso global CEO had been to New Zealand. The trip came about largely on the back of an outstanding first year for Fuso NZ Ltd. An agreement at the outset of the new importer and wholesaler arrangement saw a target set of a CEO‘s visit on the completion of 1,000 sales. Llistosella says, “I could not foresee this would happen in only one year and so we have to keep our word.” He spoke highly of the new import and wholesale arrangement, and of the Andrews family‘s understanding of people, product and placement and the relationship that had led to the year one result.

Llistosella spoke about the rise of the Fuso brand since being given a mandate to grow the brand without constraint by parent Daimler.

“For the fifth time in a row we have the highest historical EBIT. For the fifth time in a row we have decreasing quality related costs.”

He talked at length about Fuso‘s two product lines, the ‘e‘ brand Fuso and the traditional legacy or “classic” brand, and emphasised a dual development path for both brands at least for the immediate future.

In regard to e-Canter and e-Fuso (the latter still currently in development but well past a prototype and certainly not far away from the global stage – 2021 for Japan), he pointed to the success of e-Canter as a mass-produced e-commercial vehicle, the only other coming from BYD in China, which he noted as a nation was where they [Fuso/Daimler] saw the fiercest competition coming from in the future despite the ‘Hollywood‘ style R&D and release programmes catching all the limelight in the US.

“They [China] are doing it, and massively investing into ‘e‘.”

With 65% of the world‘s population expected to live in an urban environment in the future, focusing on and producing metro e-commercial vehicles was obvious he said. The future path for heavy line haul vehicles is not so clear. Placing a thousand e-Canters into Auckland would have a CO2 savings impact of 16,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to a forest the size of Rangitoto.

The next step would see a longer-range heavier metro delivery solution e-Fuso. Currently e-Canter has a range of 150km with a capacity of 4.3 tonne including body and load, whereas e-Fuso will have a 350km range and 11.2 tonne payload.

The other significant pillars moving forward he cited as autonomy and connectivity. Fuso recently conducted a successful multi-brand platooning trial in Japan. Llistosella said the Japanese authorities want to push the development of platooning and autonomy generally, as Japan too has a chronic driver shortage.

Mr Llistosella said connectivity and ‘e‘ go hand in hand. Telematics will be a huge player in the future, reducing downtime for customers and OEMs via applications like predictive maintenance and advanced driver analysis. Fuso is investing heavily in the analytics and information dissemination around ‘big-data‘, and how that‘s presented to customers, dealers, and their own people for fast and clear decision making.

Of the future he was confident, cautionary, and somewhat sobering. While he clearly thought ‘e‘ would continue its rise in metro distribution and diesel would remain strong on heavy line haul for at least another 15 years, he tempered his comments with lessons learned in the information revolution and disparaging predictions others made on the likes of Apple in the early part of the century. He welcomes the likes Tesla and Nikola to the party as they forced traditional thought paradigms and boundaries to be broken down and scrutinised.

“This is what makes the industry so interesting. Because for the past hundred years we had gasoline, we had the diesel, we had the injection and then the common rail, always one direction, the direction was always clear. Now the direction is not so clear, nobody knows.” He went on to highlight even how rapidly battery development was occurring and how different that might be in five years.

As far as the broader future is concerned he emphasised the scale of the issue the planet faces. With global average temperatures rising each year for the past three years he cited even a significant shift in one year of the world‘s e-vehicle fleet from 0.65% to 1.2% of the 1.1 billion total vehicle population is nothing. “It would have next to no impact on the real emission. Insignificant.” But he stressed, we have to start somewhere.

When quizzed on the key driver for change he firmly placed that at the feet of the end consumer. The demands of society will always be the key determiner of the pace of change.