Hino SA is moving into the commuter bus business with a structured programme linked to one of the country’s leading bus body builders, Busmark 2000, which was established in 1973 and is based in Randfontein.

Hino Busmark

“Hino has been a leading supplier of chassis for commuter buses for many years, but this is the first time we have a formal, long term tie-up with Busmark 2000 and will now order and stock a range of buses to provide quicker delivery to our customers,” announced the vice president of Hino SA, Dr. Casper Kruger, at a recent media briefing.

“What is really exciting is that Busmark has developed a new range of Hino 300-based buses which uses high strength light alloys to bring down the mass of the vehicles and so provide additional carrying capacity. Although less and lighter materials are used the high strength of these super alloys ensures the structural integrity of the buses is retained, which is most important as they are people carriers.

“Using the new construction methods the number of passengers that can be carried in the new Hino 814-based bus increases from 27-34, while the Hino 814 Automatic derivative can carry four more passengers, going up to 31 and the Hino 915-derived model also goes up by four seats to 35, while there are plans to develop a longer wheelbase model which will lift carrying capacity to 39 seats.

“These new buses also feature attractive new looks that are also aerodynamic and the benefit will be an 8% fuel saving with lower emissions which results in savings on the cost per passenger transported,” added Dr. Kruger.

The large network of Toyota dealers, in addition to the exclusive Hino dealers, will all be involved in marketing the Hino Busmark 2000 commuter buses as they are ideal for schools and similar institutions as well as for supplying on government and other tenders.

In the past there was a delay of several weeks between ordering a bus and taking delivery and now Kruger says the new partnership between the two companies will see buses being built for stock so supply will be much better than was the case previously.

When questioned as to whether Hino would enter the luxury coach market in SA the vice-president said that this market was well-supplied with product and very competitive and it did not make business sense for Hino to become yet another competitor in a segment with a comparatively small annual sales volume.

The Hino vice president was very upbeat when he gave details of the significant investments being made by dealers in new and upgraded premises. An impressive 43% of the Hino dealer network have invested or will invest in their premises in the period 2010-2014, with the total investment over the period running to well over a hundred million rand.

“What is pleasing is this display of confidence in the long term prospects of the Hino brand, particularly as many of these dealerships belong to major groups and these executives have to justify to the board for approval of substantial investments. This means they see the expansion in their operations as good business,” said Dr. Kruger. “What is also encouraging is that, in the main, the decision to renew or upgrade facilities was made by the dealers themselves with little urging from us.”

The Hino executive explained that building a new, standalone  facility with drive-through work bays cost between R15-million and R25-million, while upgrades with four to five double bays usually cost between R4-6-million.

The dealerships in Middelburg, Nelspruit and Piet Retief were upgraded in the 2010/11 period, while seven more were erected or upgraded in 2012, located in East London, Okahandja, Lichtenburg, Empangeni, Ladysmith, West Rand and Francistown.

This year no fewer than nine Hino outlets will be built or upgraded, being those in Lydenburg, Wadeville (previously the Tyco facility), Oranje (Bloemfontein), Kungwini (Bronkhorstspruit), Isando (a new dealer and the first in the Super Group), Midrand, Windhoek (Pupkewitz), Malalane and Potchefstroom. These developments alone will cost in the region of R60-million. At least three more dealerships will be built or upgraded in 2014.

Dr. Kruger said that besides the bus development Hino SA would introduce a 500-Series tipper to the product line-up next month. Based on the 1626 model, the 15.5-ton GVM tipper will be priced at a competitive R571 771, and will fill an important gap in the range. Later in the year there will be some changes to the 700-Series in the extra-heavy category with the addition of 8×4 and freight carrier models.

The Hino vice president went on to say that further product news would be revealed at the

Johannesburg International Motor Show

in October.