Dr KrugerThe team at Hino SA is upbeat about its growth prospects in the SA truck market in 2012 after a difficult 2011.

“Although the general forecasts are for comparatively small growth in the local truck and bus market we are determined to regain the market share we lost during the previous 12 months,” explained Hino vice-president Dr. Casper Kruger.

Hino, like the other Japanese vehicle manufacturers, was affected by not only the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, but also by flooding in Thailand towards the end of the year which impacted on the ability of component makers in that country to supply many of the world’s vehicle manufacturers – mainly those located in Japan.

“Even though we put contingency plans in place following these natural disasters – particularly in terms of our after sales support to customers – we had significant stock shortages for much of the year. This resulted in us losing 1,7% in overall truck and bus market share*, but we still held onto second place behind Mercedes-Benz,” explained the Hino executive.

“Hino maintained its proud record as the long-time market leader in the medium truck market, despite shedding 2% in share. The Hino 300/Toyota Dyna led the way in this segment of the SA market for the 31st  consecutive year.

“The Hino 500 Series remained the second best-selling heavy truck range in the country and here we gained 0,3% in share. We dropped 1,3% in the extra-heavy segment, but this is an area where we are going to make a concerted effort to increase penetration,” added Dr. Kruger

Hino sees the short term outlook for the truck market in 2012 as positive, particularly as the stock situation improves, with Hino production running at full capacity in Japan again.

The company is also going to have a big boost in March with the arrival of the impressive new range of 300 Series trucks, including some important new derivatives to the line.-up.

The new 300 Series was previewed at the Johannesburg Truck and Bus Show in October and attracted a great deal of attention from potential customers. South Africa will be the first semi-knocked down market in the world to get this important new range.

The Hino vice-president stressed that the 2012 focus was not going to be on increasing volume at the expense of customer satisfaction. “We want to be known for offering unparalleled uptime to our customers and to this end we will be taking some actions to further improve parts availability.

“One of the highlights of last year was the announcement of our HinoCare initiative that enables us to increase service intervals on all Hino models as a major contributor to improving our all-important CPK (cost per kilometre) figures. We have also made significant improvements to the warranty benefits for certain of our models.

“We’ll launch an extension to the HinoCare offering in 2012, which will include the introduction of service and maintenance plans on the 300, 500 and 700 Series to provide added peace of mind for operators,” concluded Dr Kruger.

*The market share figures were computed using sales figures for the first 11 months of 2011 and calendar year figures for 2010 so that the Daimler Group, which did not report sales for December 2011, could be included in the comparison to make it relevant, as this company sells about a quarter of all trucks and buses in South Africa.