Hino, a leading Japanese truck manufacturer, collected the prize for the highest placed truck with an engine under 10 litres capacity for the 12th successive year when the second Dakar Rally staged in Saudi Arabia ended in Jeddah on January 15. The only other under 10 litre competitors in the event, two Mercedes-Benz Unimogs, withdrew from the race two days before the finish.
The four-wheel drive Hino 500 Series truck, crewed by Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya and Yuji Mochizuki, came 12th overall out of 29 finishers from an original field of 44 trucks. This is the same Hino team which finished 10th overall out of an entry of 46 trucks in 2020.
It was once again a David vs Goliath battle as the Hino valiantly raced against a field comprising mostly specially developed racing trucks with much larger capacity engines. Hino downsized its team for this year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team was shaved to the bare minimum with only one racing truck and only three mechanics in the support team. None of the mechanics were drafted into the team from Hino dealerships as has been the situation in recent years.
Hino competed in the Dakar Rally for the first time in 1991 and at least one Hino has been a finisher every year the event has been staged since then. Hino was once again the only Japanese brand in a field of Western and Eastern European trucks.
It was not easy for the Hino team this year as the route was very demanding. The crew also had to deal with a forward roll over in the sand dunes that put the truck on its roof in the third racing stage. The truck was put back on its wheels with the help of a fellow competitor. There was major damage to the rear bodywork but fortunately, the drivetrain was virtually undamaged, and the team was able to make it back to the overnight stop for repairs, although they had lost a great deal of time. (see past FleetWatch story here https://fleetwatch.co.za/you-just-cant-keep-the-hino-team-sugawara-down/).
This year’s Dakar, which was the 43rd in this series of long distance cross-country races which has now taken place in three global regions – Africa, South America, and the Middle East – attracted a field of 321 entered vehicles with 286 starters. A total of 93 fell out during the two-week event which took competitors over a route of 7 812 km, which included 4 688 km of special timed stages.
“Hino’s ongoing record for reliability in the world’s toughest motorsport event makes us, at Hino South Africa, very proud because reliability and durability are two of the major attributes of the brand which continues to be a significant player in the local market, where it has been a participant for the past 48 years,” says Pieter Klerck, General Manager of Hino SA.
Another first for Hino SA
Staying on the subject of Hino and winning posts, while the Hino Team Sugawara were collecting their prize at the Dakar Rally, the good people at Hino SA and its nationwide dealer network back in South Africa were collecting their prize for excellence in parts and technical service levels from Hino Motors Japan.
The accolades were for taking first places in the parts and service categories in the Middle East and Africa region. In the bigger picture, however, Hino SA competes against all the other Hino distributors in the world in this competition.
The main objective of this long-running programme is to recognise top-performing distributors with standards at the same level as if they were operating in the Japanese domestic market. Each year the recognition programme goes through a Kaizen (continuous improvement) process to ensure the contest remains relevant and beneficial in terms of improving the dealer and customer experience with the Hino brand,
The various Distributor of the Year programmes are driven by two main cogs in the Hino Total Support strategy, which targets 100% up-time and a reduction in the cost of operation and cost of ownership for Hino customers. The two cogs are Fix-It -Right-First-Time and supplying the right parts when required.
In terms of service, this means ensuring the most economical cost of repair and the highest level of customer satisfaction, while for the parts division it means maintaining a high level of availability of parts at competitive prices.
“Top achievers in these programmes, which back up Hino Total Support globally, are rewarded internationally by Hino Japan. This year Hino SA was rewarded with gold status for both parts and service in its region,” says Pieter Klerck, the General Manager of Toyota South Africa.