TOKYO -- Japan's fleet of internet-connected trucks is expected to grow by 150% to more than 500,000 in 2020 as commercial vehicle makers cater to a logistics industry suffering from a driver shortage, corporate plans show.
UD Trucks, a Japan-based unit of Volvo Group, plans to have 100,000 connected trucks on Japanese roads in 2020 and 150,000 in 2025. Its Quon line of heavy-duty trucks features communications systems as standard equipment. The company will also offer a wider variety of remote services, such as predicting engine problems to ensure efficient maintenance.
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus will expand the range of connected models in its Super Great line. These systems will also be added to new models, such as the electric eCanter, which is slated for a full rollout in 2020. The automaker is aiming for 100,000 connected trucks by that year.
Isuzu Motors, planning 250,000 connected trucks by fiscal 2020, will expand the monitoring service in its heavy-duty Giga series to light and medium trucks. Hino Motors will roll out similar services for medium and heavy trucks in April.
This influx would boost the share of connected trucks in Japan to around 15% of the country's 3.5 million or so trucks, up from about 5% now.
The number of parcels delivered in Japan topped 4 billion in fiscal 2016, up 40% from a decade earlier, driven by the e-commerce boom. With Yamato Holdings and other delivery companies chronically short-handed as drivers hit retirement age, connected trucks can help meet the need for improved productivity in the logistics sector.
Truck manufacturers offer remote monitoring systems that collect GPS data via onboard communications equipment to track vehicle positions. This lets fleet managers determine the best routes based on delivery destinations or inform drivers if they stray outside their assigned areas.
These systems also gather braking, acceleration and other data, which can be used to warn less-experienced drivers about locations that tend to see more accidents as well as develop more fuel-efficient driving methods.
Overseas, Mitsubishi Fuso's German parent Daimler -- the world's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles -- alone has 500,000 connected trucks on the road worldwide. The company also has a subsidiary that provides monitoring services to shipping companies, giving it an additional earnings source.