Mercedes Benz took control of the 80-year-old Fuso brand name eight years ago when it upped its 43 percent share of the company to more than 80 percent. Today, Daimler's shareholding is a tad less than 90 percent, with Mitsubishi holding the remainder, though the Mitsubishi logo still retains a prominent position within the Fuso logo.

Most significantly, the Japanese-based truck and bus company is progressing rapidly with a recent commitment to become the world leader in fuel consumption and emission reduction in the truck and bus marketplace.

Aiming at a moving target in this massively competitive field is a difficult task, but with the release of the second-generation EcoHybrid Fuso Canter into the European marketplace, Fuso appears to have begun fulfilling its goals.

The new EcoHybrid Fuso Canter has a 7.5-tonne gross vehicle weight and is aimed at city usage where real world trials in the United Kingdom with companies such as DHL, Tesco, TNT and Royal Mail have demonstrated fuel savings of up to 16 percent compared with the diesel-engined Canters, with a similar lowering of CO2 emissions.

Those trials began in 2008 and were based on the previous TD model Canter, fitted with a variety of body types and daily workloads, and subsequent improvements in the second generation hybrid indicate owners can expect a reduction of 24 percent compared with a similar non-hybrid model.

The reduction in consumption looks likely to significantly reduce running costs of the new Canter, given that the Fuso Repair & Maintenance contract prices are identical to a standard, diesel-engined Canter.

The EcoHybrid uses a Euro V-compliant 110 kW (150 PS) diesel engine which operates in parallel with a 40 kW electric motor. It's also equipped with the latest DUONIC transmission, an automated version of a dual-clutch manual gearbox for light trucks, plus a fuel-saving Start-Stop system.

The EcoHybrid will be sold and supported by the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle dealer network, the batteries have a ten year guaranteed lifetime, with the rest of the vehicle having a three year unlimited mileage warranty.

The Fuso Canter was first released in Japan in 1963 and is now in its seventh generation.