Hino is looking to the future
Auto transmissions and beefed-up safety to rejig bread-and-butter models
THE longevity of the Hino truck is undisputed.
This is evident in country towns and rural areas across the nation where Hino models, well into their teenage years and beyond, still function, hauling calves and pigs to market, horses to events, hay and suchlike to hungry farm animals.
While longevity, durability and dependability might be part of Hino ownership, the Japanese manufacturer has never been able to make significant inroads into the marketing juggernaut that is Isuzu.
And according to Bill Gillespie, Hino’s General Manager of Brand Development, getting into the ring with Isuzu for the championship buckle is not on the cards in the near future.
“Our goal is to be number one in customer experience and satisfaction,” Mr Gillespie told Big Rigs.
Hino continues to refresh its market with regular launches of new and updated product over the three ranges the company delivers.
Light Duty is handled by the 300 Series, Medium Duty by the bread-and-butter 500 Series and doing the heavy lifting in the Heavy Duty range is the 700 Series.
From these series come 90 vocation-targeted, off-theshelf models.
Many of the trucks are Australianised Japanese models and some are built with a high degree of Australian engineering input such as the recently launched four-wheel-drive.
In February 2017, Hino launched the Wide cab 500 Series providing improved space, higher safety and more use of tech.
In the fourth quarter of 2017 the 300 Series 4x4, a handy little bush track and off-road beast was let off the leash.
And in November this year an upgraded standard cab version of the 500 Series will be launched.
Mr Gillespie said the upcoming launch of the new 500 Series will supply a Medium Duty truck with an automatic transmission, something customers have been asking for.
“They want two-pedal auto not automated,” he said.
Likely the automatic transmission will be an Allison.
The safety package of the 500 Series will be upgraded but to what extent it was still unknown at the time of writing with Australian marketing executives negotiating with the Japanese masters in finding a price point acceptable to the market.
Stability control and reversing cameras will be coming for sure but Hino’s Pre-Collision-damagemitigation system may not make the cut to the Southern Hemisphere.
With the Wide-Body 500 Series launched only last year in Australia, I asked Mr Gillespie if to launch the standard cab was a retrograde step.
“Not at all,” he replied. “The wide cabs will appeal to operators looking at the heavier end of the 500 Series range while the new models are in the 11 to 14 tonne range and that’s Hino’s bread and butter.”
This sector makes up 25 per cent of Hino unit sales in Australia.
The continuing search for efficiencies such as lower tare weights and improved emissions has seen a trend within Hino in Japan to reduce cubic capacity of engines.
The 700 Series has seen a cube reduction from 13 litres to nine litres and the 500 Series from seven to five litres.
Mr Gillespie indicated this trend will flow through to Australia.
In February 2017 Hino revealed a three-year marketing strategy, this has been stretched to five years with goals expected to be reached by 2022.
“Our order bank is running at record levels and unit sales have been increasing by 20 per cent year on year,” Mr Gillespie said. “Our current yearly sales are 5400 units up 1300 over three years ago.”
However Hino is still struggling to gain the pre-GFC peak of 6150 units sold into the Australian market.
The new 500 Series was unveiled to the world at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2017. The Standard Cab FC, FD and FE models are planned for launch to the Australian market in November this year.
ON TRACK: The new standard cab Hino 500 Series to be launched in Australia later this year.
GREAT YEAR: Hino’s Bill Gillespie talks about what the year has been like.