New Zealand LCV - - FRONT PAGE - Writ­ten by Mike Stock; test driv­ing and eval­u­a­tion by Trevor Wool­ston.

IN­CREAS­INGLY, LIGHT-DUTY TRUCKS ARE BE­ING DRIVEN BY new­com­ers to the world of truck driv­ing who op­er­ate them on a car li­cence.

They might use a truck once or twice a day to move from jobto-job – or even use it only spo­rad­i­cally dur­ing a week.

Many driv­ers don’t spend much time be­hind the wheel of a truck, and man­u­fac­tur­ers are work­ing to cater for th­ese part­time truck­ies by pro­vid­ing ex­tra safety tech­nolo­gies and car-like con­ve­nience fea­tures.

Hino’s at­trac­tive 300, for in­stance, is fit­ted with two items that have been in­tro­duced to cars in the quest to re­duce ac­ci­dents, and make driv­ing safer and eas­ier.

The first, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol is re­garded as one of the most ef­fec­tive au­to­mo­tive safety tech­nolo­gies. It’s manda­tory on new cars, SUVS, utes and vans sold in New Zealand, but rarely has been fit­ted to light trucks.

Hino added it to the 300 when it gave the truck a ma­jor re­vamp about five years ago. That re­vamp also in­cluded giv­ing the cab slip­perier aero­dy­nam­ics to re­duce fuel con­sump­tion.

Hino also im­proved the er­gonomics and com­fort of the air­con­di­tioned cab. It got larger door aper­tures, wider open­ing doors, larger ingress and egress steps, and in­creased foot- and leg-room.

Foot and leg space was in­creased by rais­ing the lower edge of the in­stru­ment panel.

Hino calls its elec­tronic sta­bil­ity sys­tem Ve­hi­cle Sta­bil­ity Con­trol (VSC). Sta­bil­ity con­trol tries to re­duce sin­gle-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents where a truck rolls over or slides off the road.

Un­der­steer oc­curs when the front tyres lose grip and the truck runs wide on a cor­ner. If it runs wide, it could po­ten­tially leave the road or col­lide with a ve­hi­cle com­ing in the op­po­site


The VSC sys­tem in­cludes a ded­i­cated elec­tronic con­trol unit (ECU) which con­trols VSC, ABS anti-lock brak­ing, and trac­tion con­trol (ASR).

If sen­sors mounted on the truck de­tect ex­ces­sive un­der­steer, the VSC re­duces the throt­tle open­ing.

And depend­ing on the de­gree of un­der­steer it ap­plies brak­ing, to help turn the ve­hi­cle into the cor­ner.

If the VSC sys­tem de­tects over­steer – where the rear tyres lose grip – it con­trols the engine out­put and can ap­ply the brakes on the out­side front and rear wheels to bring the truck into line.

Ear­lier this year, in an upgrade that in­creased safety and also made park­ing and back­ing eas­ier, Hino New Zealand fit­ted re­vers­ing cam­eras on all 300 mod­els.

The cam­eras com­ply with ADR (Aus­tralian De­sign Rules), are wa­ter­proof and project high-def­i­ni­tion im­agery on to the truck’s dash-mounted dis­play screen.

At night, the cam­eras use in­frared tech­nol­ogy to en­able the driver to ma­noeu­vre the truck more safely in the dark, and have a built-in mi­cro­phone.

Also stan­dard on the 300 are four-wheel ven­ti­lated disc brakes, ABS brak­ing, Elec­tronic Brake-force Dis­tri­bu­tion (EBD) and Brake As­sist (BA). The steer­ing wheel is tilt and tele­scop­i­cally-ad­justable, and the Hino 300 has re­mote-con­trol key­less en­try.

Hino 300s that can be driven on a car li­cence have GVMS of 5500kg or 5995kg and are avail­able in 615, 717, 815 and 917 mod­els and there are stan­dard cab and four-door Crew Cab body­work choices.

In the first of a se­ries of tests of the light-duty trucks on the New Zealand mar­ket, we put a Hino 300 fit­ted with a fac­tory-built tip tray through its paces.

Fac­tory-built tip­pers are of­fered by most light-duty truck dis­trib­u­tors in New Zealand, and pro­vide cus­tomers with a ve­hi­cle they can buy com­plete and ready to work.

There’s no de­lay while a tip­per body gets built, and the truck can start work­ing vir­tu­ally from day one. Fac­tory tip­pers are prov­ing in­creas­ingly-pop­u­lar.

The test truck was Hino New Zealand’s demon­stra­tion model 717 Medium tip truck which was fit­ted with ac­ces­sories in­clud­ing a bull­bar, a stone guard along the bot­tom of the wind­screen, a

sun­vi­sor, and a roof-mounted am­ber flash­ing hazard light.

It rode on a 3430mm wheel­base, and a tool­box with a ver­ti­callyslid­ing door was mounted between tip­per tray and the cab.

The well-placed steps and grab han­dles on the A-pil­lar made the cab easy to get into and out of, the seats were well-shaped, and it was easy to achieve a com­fort­able driv­ing po­si­tion.

The dash­board lay­out is clean, with the main in­stru­ments in a bin­na­cle ahead of the driver. To the left is a touch-screen which dis­plays the re­vers­ing cam­era and other data.

Sev­eral stor­age cub­by­holes are fit­ted to the left-hand side of the dash­board, in front of the pas­sen­ger. A roomy tray that is ideal for pa­per­work stowage runs along the lower edge of the left-hand side of the dash.

The 300’s deep ex­te­rior mir­rors mounted on stalks that rise from the front body­work pro­vide ex­cel­lent rear vi­sion.

An ex­tra mir­ror mounted on the left-hand side of the cab and an­gled down and along the front of the truck, pro­vided a view of the front off­side cor­ner of the ve­hi­cle.

Tester Trevor Wool­ston who eval­u­ates heavy trucks for LCV’S sis­ter magazine, Truck & Driver, found the ex­tra mir­ror a very use­ful fea­ture.

The 300 has a good turn­ing cir­cle and the chas­sis is firmlysprung, given the un­laden ve­hi­cle a fairly busy ride on un­even sur­faces. Load the tray with ag­gre­gate or soil, and that will even out.

Wool­ston rated the ride qual­ity as nor­mal for a small tip­per, and felt that the 300 had a ro­bust, tough, and hard-work­ing feel.

He was less com­pli­men­tary about the gearshift which he said took some ad­just­ing to.

First is away to the left and back (op­po­site re­verse), with sec­ond/third and fourth/fifth op­pos­ing each other in planes to­wards the right-hand side of the gate. Sixth is fur­ther away to the right and up.

It was a lit­tle hard to make a smooth shift into sec­ond gear, with the gear­box’s gate be­ing bi­ased to­wards the fourth/fifth plane. Where pos­si­ble, Wool­ston pre­ferred to start off from stand­still in sec­ond gear. The gearshift qual­ity was also a lit­tle on the chunky side.

The steer­ing, though a lit­tle heavy, was ac­cu­rate and the 300 could be placed on the road pre­cisely, and the truck held its line well in cor­ners.

The 123kw 4.0-litre in­line four cylin­der tur­bod­iesel mo­tor was will­ing and pro­vided plenty of power and torque, giv­ing the lit­tle tip­per strong per­for­mance.

Over­all, the Hino 300 Tip­per im­pressed as a ro­bust-feel­ing work­horse with an air of tough­ness al­lied to good in-cabin com­fort. It proved driver-friendly and easy to drive.

Above left: Dash­board de­sign is clean, in­stru­ments easy to read, and work en­vi­ron­ment light and airy. Above right: Well-placed steps and grab han­dles make get­ting into the cab easy. Be­low: Hino 300 cab was a lit­tle heavy when be­ing tilted for­ward to...

Hino 300 has at­trac­tive, clean styling and test truck was fit­ted with a range of ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing ro­bust bull­bar.

Test truck was a Hino fac­tory-built tip­per. Ready-to-go to work tip­pers are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar.

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