Hino SA intends enlarging its range of offerings in the popular 300-Series truck line-up to meet customer requirements and changing trends in the market. Among the major target markets for the range are bakeries, security companies and local municipalities with the latter favouring crew cabs when teams are used for work projects.
“We’ve undertaken extensive research with our dealers and customers as well as detailed market trend analysis and the results have highlighted the need for more of these trucks with crew cab bodies and the option of automatic transmission,” says Ernie Trautmann, vice president of Hino SA. “At present we only have the 815 model with both these specification items but aim to improve that situation shortly.”
“Trucks fitted with the six-speed automatic transmission designed, developed and manufactured by Hino are finding increasing favour with operators as they are easy-to-drive thereby reducing driver fatigue and allowing the driver to concentrate fully on the road and traffic situation. It also cuts maintenance costs. This is the ideal solution for owner drivers of which there are a fair number in this market segment,” adds Trautmann.
The latest Hino 300-Series range, introduced at the Johannesburg International Motor Show in 2013, is well equipped with standard features such as air conditioning, radio, electric windows, driver and passenger airbags, multi-function display and ABS brakes. All this has increased the appeal of a truck range that has been a stalwart in the South African medium truck market since its introduction here in 1965, initially as the Toyota Dyna.
Japan plant expanded
Meanwhile, back in Japan, Hino Motors Ltd is putting increased focus on projects to improve its global production and supply capability. One of the latest initiatives is the consolidation of all engine production at its Nitta plant. This plant already supplies the small and medium range of Hino diesel engines but is now being expanded to also handle production of the large engine range.
Large engine production is being relocated from Tokyo and the enlarged Nitta engine-making facility is due for production start-up in mid-2016. Hino is also taking the opportunity to increase efficiency and productivity as the new engine line will be able to handle production of both the medium and heavy truck engine ranges. This will enable the company to optimise production to meet market demands.
Hino’s overall programme for the future involves the development of a modularised “market best-fit products” strategy in conjunction with the optimisation of its global supply and production infrastructure.
Components of Hino trucks and buses have been divided into two categories based on a modular concept: first there are the core parts essential for manufacturing a Hino vehicle and then there are the peripheral components which can be adapted to customise a vehicle to meet specific customer requirements in the various regions of the world. Nitta will be the main facility for manufacturing engines, transmissions and differential gear carriers and will supply these components to the Koga plant in Japan as well as overseas assembly plants.
Koga is being developed as the main assembly plant for medium and heavy trucks and buses and will also be the source of chassis frames, axles and cabs. Koga is already the supply base for knocked down (KD) kits for building Hino trucks and buses outside Japan. The upgraded Koga plant is due to start full-scale production in 2017.
“Through the optimisation of these production and supply structures Hino aims to improve productivity and logistical efficiency,” says the President of Hino Motors, Yasuhiko Ichihashi. “These major developments will enable us to respond flexibly to the needs of the global market so that we are able to effectively contribute to our customers’ businesses and thereby ensure that Hino continues to be their brand of choice.”