In our May 2011 edition, we told of the upgraded Hino 700 range stating that with the improvements made to the 13-model range , especially with the ZF-AS Tronic electronically-controlled, 16-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) now fitted to some models – Hino was now ready for the long haul sector.
It is thus we found interesting a press release from Hino stating that good feedback has been received from Unitrans Freight and Logistics which is evaluating the new Hino AMT. Unitrans uses three of them for an operation that transports automotive components from Port Elizabeth to Durban for Toyota SA and so far the latest model is performing well.
The fleet used for this 24/7 operation consists of 10 Hino trucks , three 2845’s with AMT and two 2841’s, four 2845’s and one 2848 all fitted with manual gearboxes. The AMT system fitted to the Hino 700 Series incorporates an automatic start function and eliminates the need to operate a clutch and change gears, which makes life much easier for the driver and cuts maintenance costs into the bargain.
“I haven’t had previous experience with trucks fitted with this form of transmission but my initial impressions are positive,’ says Dave Muller, technical manager for Unitrans Freight and Logistics. “The AMT-equipped trucks are proving slightly better on average fuel consumption than the equivalent model fitted with a manual gearbox with the difference being in the region of 3-4 l/100km.’
Muller says the drivers are also enthusiastic about the ease of driving. “With no need to use a clutch or select gears, they can concentrate on the road ahead and the traffic around them. There is also a benefit for the fleet owner in terms of extending the life of major components such as the clutch. I certainly see AMT as the way to go in the future.’
Muller’s responsibilities extend to the selection of vehicles and equipment, including detailed specifications for a particular requirement. He is responsible for the purchasing and maintenance of all the equipment used in the division’s 28 contracts, involving 275 trucks and four workshops.
If a guy like Muller is giving the initial thumbs up to the Hino 700 AMT, it seems we weren’t far off the mark in predicting Hino’s readiness for the long haul sector.