Clean, lean Hino

Driv­ing a hy­brid re­quires new skills, writes James Stan­ford

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

SMALL hy­brid trucks are start­ing to gain mo­men­tum, with more com­pa­nies keen to be seen cut­ting emis­sions.

Hino’s hy­brid has been dis­ad­van­taged by be­ing avail­able only as a man­ual, but that was rec­ti­fied when Hino in­tro­duced an au­to­matic ver­sion.

This truck is eas­ier on driv­ers who have to op­er­ate a clutch all day ev­ery day. It could also save fuel in the real world.

Of course, the man­ual hy­brid should be the best model for sav­ing fuel if the per­son be­hind the wheel drives in the most eco­nom­i­cal way, but this is not al­ways the case.

A hy­brid doesn’t drive like the tra­di­tional Ja­panese truck that needs to be revved hard to get any-

‘‘ On one oc­ca­sion the gear­box sim­ply re­fused to change down go­ing up a long and steep hill

where at a rea­son­able pace. The ex­tra elec­tric as­sis­tance means the driver can move along quite nicely at lower revs, but driv­ers who have been pi­lot­ing small Ja­panese trucks for years could take time to ad­just.

This is high­lighted by the fact that TNT has hired driver train­ing spe­cial­ists DECA to teach its hy­brid driv­ers how to get the best out of the new ve­hi­cles.

The new au­to­matic Hino makes it eas­ier to drive more ef­fi­ciently be­cause it shifts far more eco­nom­i­cally than most driv­ers.

Big Wheels tested the new truck. Apart from the big Hy­brid brand­ing on the front and sides of the truck, you would not pick this as a hy­brid at first look.

A sec­ond look would prob­a­bly pick up a metal box at­tached to the front left side of the chas­sis be­neath the tray, stamped with the word Hy­brid. This is the bat­tery pack.

The bat­tery uses the same technology — nickel metal hy­dride, which has been proven over sev­eral years — as the Toy­ota Prius car.

This feeds an elec­tric mo­tor that pro­vides as­sis­tance to the diesel en­gine un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion, pro­vid­ing up to 36kW and 360Nm.

The diesel en­gine is a 4.0-litre com­mon-rail tur­bod­iesel that gen­er­ates 100kW at 3000rpm and 350Nm at 1000rpm and uses ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion.

When you first hop into the Hino, you no­tice it looks just like any other 300-se­ries truck.

The only hint you get is the term Hy­brid on the in­stru­ment clus­ter, spe­cial mark­ings on the ta­cho and hy­brid func­tion lights.

I twist the key and fire up the en­gine. It sounds like any other diesel. Un­like car hy­brids, you can’t creep for­ward with­out the reg­u­lar en­gine go­ing.

In a few sec­onds I’m in traf­fic. The Hino is car­ry­ing a cou­ple of tonne of gravel in the back, but it is no slouch.

There is a good amount of torque down low in the rev range that you re­ally do no­tice in low-speed traf­fic.

The ta­cho has a green band from 1000-2000 revs, which is where Hino rec­om­mends you stay for the best econ­omy.

If the traf­fic isn’t mov­ing too fast and the road is fairly flat, you can man­age this.

When you have to move faster, or tackle a hill, it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to stay in the green zone.

The au­to­matic trans­mis­sion works well, but it isn’t per­fect. It un­der­stand­ably shifts up early for the best fuel econ­omy, but in some cases it is too early and you find your­self press­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor down to trig­ger the trans­mis­sion to shift down.

On one oc­ca­sion the gear­box sim­ply re­fused to change down go­ing up a long and steep hill, de­spite the en­gine revs drop­ping to 1300revs and the truck slow­ing con­sid­er­ably.

Al­though it isn’t per­fect, the au­to­matic does make driv­ing so much eas­ier, es­pe­cially if you are in the truck for long pe­ri­ods.

The Hino is easy to drive gen­er­ally, with ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity and re­spon­sive steer­ing.

There is no fuel use cal­cu­la­tor on board, which is a shame. It would be good for the driver to see the con­sump­tion num­ber and try to get it as low as pos­si­ble.

Some hy­brid driv­ers don’t even know how much they use be­cause their em­ploy­ers don’t pass on the fig­ures.

This isn’t an ex­pen­sive fea­ture, es­pe­cially given the cost of the hy­brid technology un­der­neath.

You do know when the en­gine is charg­ing the bat­tery, thanks to a Charge light, which en­cour­ages you to back off ear­lier and let the en­gine work to save fuel.

There is room for im­prove­ment, and the next gen­er­a­tion of these hy­brids will move the technology along, but driv­ing the Hino Hy­brid au­to­matic is an easy way to make a green con­tri­bu­tion.

Just ducky: the Hino Hy­brid makes it easy to be green.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.