The investment of R55-million in a new truck plant for Hino Trucks on Toyota SA’s manufacturing site in Prospecton, near Durban, is confirmation of the importance of trucks to the company.
This was the message from president and CEO, Dr Johan van Zyl, when he addressed a large group of dealers, customers and a number of other dignitaries – including the chairman of the board of Hino Motors Limited, Masakazu Ichikawa – at the official opening of the new plant in May.
Dr van Zyl said the investment in the truck plant was only part of recent investments in local production, with more than R1-billion having been spent on production facilities in Prospecton over the past couple of years. He added that Hino is a strong brand with great global success and in South Africa, the truck segment of the market is seen as a good growth opportunity, both in the domestic and export markets.
“As a group company, Toyota is committed to the Hino brand and this investment underlines just how serious we are about trucking,” he said.
The switch from assembling the Quantum minibus and panel van from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits to completely knocked down (CKD) kits was the reason the truck and Quantum assembly could no longer take place in one factory – hence the relocation of the truck assembly.
The new assembly plant currently has an annual production capacity of 5 000 units on a single shift and this can be increased significantly as demand grows. The number of people employed at this plant and its related support functions currently stands at over 160 team members.
At present the trucks produced at the plant – all Hino models as well as Toyota Dyna – are for the domestic market and neighbouring countries only. Hino trucks for other markets in Africa are imported from Japan, with many passing through South Africa to have bodies and special equipment fitted. Good news is that a switch to local production for some of these export markets could occur in the future.
Dr Van Zyl enthused that besides the company’s investment in the Hino brand, he is particularly upbeat in terms of the confidence being shown in the brand by the Hino dealers recently.
“Significant investments have been made and are currently being made by them in new and upgraded premises. Since 2010, almost 50% of our Hino dealer network has invested – or is currently investing in – new or revamped premises with the total investment over the period running to well over R100-million.
“These investments by our dealers – many of whom have been involved with Hino trucks since Hino arrived in South Africa in 1972 – correspond with our Hino Total Support philosophy. With our dealers, we aim to provide excellent, high quality customer experience in both the sales and parts delivery areas of the business. It is truly the only way to Keep on Trucking,” said Dr. Van Zyl.
The move to the new facility has enabled the company to implement a new assembly principle called the Jundate Principle. This allows for sub components to be assembled away from the main assembly line. Once these parts are assembled, they are delivered in sequence to the line JIT (just in time) to be fitted to the unit on line with benefits in terms of both productivity and quality.
Domestically, Hino has made a good start to the year in the local market with total sales of 1 126 medium, heavy and extra-heavy trucks in the first four months of 2014. This equates to second place in the rankings of local truck manufacturers and distributors and Hino retained its No. 1 position in the medium commercial vehicle segment with Dyna and Hino 300.
More than 130 000 Hino and Dyna trucks have been sold in SA to date, giving Hino one of the largest truck parcs in the country.