Hino previewed a new range of its top-selling 300 Series medium trucks on the opening day of the Johannesburg Truck & Bus show at Expo Centre. The occasion was seen as so important for the company that the president of Hino Motors Ltd. in Japan, Yoshio Shirai, made the trip to SA especially so he could be present.
“South Africa is the first country outside Japan to get the new Hino 300 Series for local assembly and that is why I arranged my schedule to be at the unveiling at this important show,” explained president Shirai. “All the markets in Africa are important for Hino Motors but South Africa is the most important in view of its size and high growth potential in coming years.
“South Africa is also a very important market for us in terms of feedback to assist our product development engineers in improving our range of trucks and gaining input for new models. This helps us maintain our competitiveness in this demanding market.
The vice-president of Hino SA, Dr Casper Kruger, said that this was just a preview of the new 300 Series range, as it would be launched locally only in early 2012, so he was not going to disclose details such as the model line-up and the pricing.
“I am sure you are aware the Hino 300 Series and its predecessor here in South Africa, the Toyota Dyna, have been the dominant players in the medium vehicle segment for the past 26 years and we have full confidence in our ability to maintain this leading position with the much-improved new range.,” explained Dr Kruger.
He said that some of the information he would share is that the new 300 Series line-up would include wide and narrow cabs, as well as a crew cab derivative for the first time.
He added that there was a strong family resemblance to the 500 and 700 Series models in the design of the cab, which is also more aerodynamic than the current range. It has more interior space with excellent visibility for the driver and passengers. The interior is completely restyled with many useful storage areas and a very attractive and legible instrument panel.
Electric windows, air conditioning and a radio/CD player are standard on all models in the range. There is key-operated central locking Engines are improved versions of the Euro 3 Hino power units that are more economical and have lower emissions.
The previous 611 model, which had an 81kW (110 hp) power unit, now becomes the 614 and gets the 100kW (140 horsepower) version of the 4-litre engine). This same engine which produce s 392N.m of torque, is also fitted to the 714 and 814 derivatives, while the 815 and 915 models have 110kw (150 hp) version of the same engine.
The big news is the introduction of a conventional six-speed automatic transmission in addition to 5- and 6-speed manual gearboxes.
Safety has been prioritised and the Hino 300 Series will be the first medium truck on the local market to have standard airbags with seatbelt pre-tensioners for the driver and passenger. There are now disc brakes up front and drums at the rear, with anti-skid ABS braking.
Dr Kruger went on to say: “Next year will be very important for us here in South Africa as this is when we will celebrate 40 years of Hino in our country, with the first models having been imported by the relatively young Toyota SA in 1972. Since then we have delivered more than 50 000 medium, heavy and extra-heavy Hino trucks to our customers, as well as more than 70 000 Toyota Dyna trucks, which were also built by Hino.
“A significant announcement was made three years ago, here in the truck and bus hall at the 2008 Johannesburg International Motor Show. This was that Toyota SA Trucks was being consigned to the annals of history and replaced by a self-standing Hino South Africa.
“The roll-out of the new Hino strategy accompanied by distinctive corporate identity signage as well as a restructuring and consolidation of the dealer network, started in 2009 and is now virtually complete.
The next step in ensuring an even bigger footprint of support for our customers is the appointment of a number of so-called 2S dealers, these being those offering parts and service without a sales operation. The roll out of these 2S dealers will commence in 2012.
“Although we have always fared very well in comparative customer satisfaction surveys we continue to strive to lift the levels of service, in all aspects of our business, even higher.
“We are also very aware of the rising costs faced by our customers, particularly in terms of increasing fuel prices and an ever-growing network of toll roads and decreasing the cost of ownership of a Hino is paramount in our strategy to grow our market share.
“We are very pleased to have been able to announce, shortly before this show opened, a comprehensive umbrella programme called HinoCare that will encompass all our after sales activities.
“One of the most important aspects of this initiative is that we have been able to double our service intervals which will result in substantial savings for our customers.
The method we used to achieve this has been achieved by switching to high quality synthetic Hino Genuine Motor Oil. This results in Hino 300 Series services going out from every 10 000km to every 20 000km, with the 500 Series’ service intervals extending from 15 000km to 30 000km, while the 700 Series doubles from every 20 000km to every 40 000km.
“In addition to the extended service intervals we also announced improved warranties for the Hino 300 and 500 Series. All these models now come standard with a 24-month/unlimited kilometres manufacturer’s warranty. Both these improvement willow offer significant savings and benefits to customers.
“We also announced 24/7 roadside assistance for Hino trucks and the fact that all our Hino trucks are micro-dotted at the factory,” concluded the Hino SA vice-president.
Other models that were displayed by Hino at the show were in the 700 and 500 Series. The company is determined to increase its share is in the vibrant extra-heavy market where the 700 Series is becoming more and more competitive. An important step has been the fact that we have added the 16-speed ZF ASTRONIC gearbox to our entire truck-tractor range.
The fact that three of these premium models were on display showed how serious Hino is about promoting this range. They were a 2848 6×4 double sleeper cab, a 2841 6×4 with a single sleeper cab as well as a 2845 6×4 with a double sleeper cab.
The 500 Series continues to be among the top sellers in the heavy segment of the market and here again Hino said it is going to plug some gaps in the range in the near future. This is also the model that forms the basis of the racing trucks developed by Hino and Team Sugawara for the Dakar Rally and which are currently in the finals stages of preparation for the 2012 event in South America.
During his speech to the media the president and CEO of Toyota SA, Dr Johan van Zyl had said that Hino production in Japan is now running at full capacity again after an amazing display of co-operation by all involved, including a vast number of suppliers and service provider in repairing the damage caused by the tsunami and earthquake on March 11 “I believe there are very few countries in the world where the recovery would have been so rapid,” Said Dr van Zyl.
He added that Hino Motors is targeting to increase its annual global sales to 230 000 units by 2015, while also improving the company’s profitability. This objective is double the worldwide sales for the past financial year.
“There are a number of reasons that Hino believes this target is achievable,” explained Toyota SA’s senior executive. “Firstly, as I mentioned already, the company is back on track in terms of production in Japan.
“An important strategy for the future is to move more Hino production off-shore while the company is also reviewing its manufacturing systems to improve efficiencies. This will involve more use of modular concepts. There are important new model launches in the near future which use localised models for the various world markets. Hybrid models will be included in the line-up for certain markets.
“Besides making enormous investments in direct new product research and development Hino has made huge strides in the fields of vehicle safety and environmentally friendly technology, including the development of diesel-electric hybrid and fuel cell trucks and buses.
“All these investments and product-directed activities bode well for the future of the Hino brand here in South Africa,” concluded Dr van Zyl.