Its exceptionally high payload potential and small footprint made the 7.5-tonne Fuso Canter the perfect platform for a new truck-mounted sweeper designed to work on narrow urban streets.
The compact VT551 is the work of leading manufacturer Johnston Sweepers. At just two metres wide the vehicle is significantly slimmer than could be achieved with a conventional 7.5-tonner, while the Canter’s light but strong ladder frame chassis means it can nevertheless be fitted with a high (5.25m³) capacity hopper.
Having built a prototype which was quickly snapped up by a customer in Russia, Surrey-based Johnston Sweepers has just completed its second VT551, which will serve as a demonstration unit targeted primarily at municipal operators.
Both units are based on Canter 7C18D chassis supplied by Aldershot Mercedes-Benz dealer Rossetts Commercials – the German manufacturer’s UK dealers are also responsible for sales and support of the popular Japanese light truck range.
However, while the first VT551 was a Euro 4 model, the latest is powered by a 180hp, 3.0-litre engine that not only meets Euro 5 emissions limits but also the more stringent – and voluntary – Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle (EEV) standard.
Meanwhile, the new Tier 3a auxiliary engine used to power the sweeping equipment also combines low CO2 emissions with impressive fuel economy – in recent tests it used 27 per cent less fuel at 1400rpm than comparable sweepers, this representing a saving of up to £4,700 over a typical year.
This is the first time that Johnston Sweepers has based one of its products on a Fuso Canter chassis. Graham Howlett, the firm’s UK Sales Manager, confirmed: "The demands of customers in the municipal market are changing, and we have high hopes that the VT551 is going to prove a very attractive option for urban sweeping duties.
"It offers great value of money and productivity. All sweeping equipment is relatively heavy but in the case of the VT551 this is mitigated by the light weight of the Canter. The resulting payload of about 2,200kg for detritus is roughly half a tonne more than you’d get from most other 7.5-tonners.
"The smaller Canter chassis has also made it possible to shorten the wheelbase and this, coupled with the fact that it’s very narrow too, gives the vehicle exceptional manoeuvrability, which is invaluable for operation in areas where access is restricted."
Johnston Sweepers has been manufacturing road sweepers from its plant in Dorking since 1924 and today also has two other UK plants producing machines for export throughout the world, as well as for domestic customers.