Hino is look­ing to the fu­ture

Auto trans­mis­sions and beefed-up safety to re­jig bread-and-but­ter mod­els

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Bruce Honeywill

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.

PHOTO: HINO

ON TRACK: The new stan­dard cab Hino 500 Se­ries to be launched in Aus­tralia later this year.

PHOTO: MARK BEAN

GREAT YEAR: Hino’s Bill Gille­spie talks about what the year has been like.

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