THE LIGHT FANTASTIC | Light Truck Review – Hino 300

Hino 300 gets set for a new generation of light truck buyers – Words by Neil Dowling

It is often the small things that can transform both the fortunes of a vehicle manufacturer and reduce the costs of its consumer.

In the case of fleet vehicles, efficiency is the king of the business’ bottom line. But growing emphasis on the need for occupant safety and comfort, and on reducing demands on the environment, now play a greater role in vehicle selection.

Hino reckons it has ticked all the boxes with its latest 300 Series, boosting safety with standard autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection while lifting comfort and convenience levels to meet rising corporate due diligence and greater demands by operators.

Hino hasn’t overlooked environmental consciousness, continuing with its hybrid version and announcing that clients, including Woolworths, have come onboard with the brand’s electrification programme.

The result is a truck that upgrades its predecessor without being a totally new model, claiming to retain the cost efficiencies while looking after both the owner and the driver.

Prices are up on the outgoing 300 Series range, with the cheapest version – the 616 manual standard cab – now $51,064. The most expensive of the new range is the 916 hybrid Wide Cab at $93,291.

Already, Hino has 365 pre-orders and has started deliveries with no reports of any supply-chain issues attributed to the pandemic.

With this new 300 Series, Hino Australia general manager for brand and franchise development, Bill Gillespie, told Delivery magazine that he predicts it will boost the brand’s market share to more than 30 percent and maintain its position as the nation’s second most popular 3500-8000 kg GVM sector entrant, behind the Isuzu N-Series.

“The 300 Series is often the first experience of the Hino brand for many growing businesses and an entry-level for our future long-term customers,” Mr. Gillespie said.

“This all-new 300 Series range will also capitalise on the more than 40,000 Hino light-duty trucks already sold in Australia since 2000.”

Mr. Gillespie said Hino was targeting the traditional markets of retail, fleets and government, but has said it would more strongly offer the 300 Series to the trades, and in its hybrid form, to urban delivery operators.

He said online shopping had been a big catalyst to the sales of light-duty trucks and was accelerating harder on demand from consumers during the pandemic.

“In the full year of 2019 total e-commerce revenue reached over $27.5 billion or 10 per cent of all retail,” he said.

“The online shopping industry is forecast to continue growing strongly over the next five years to over $30 billion, as consumers seeking convenience drive demand for online goods and services. This recent coronavirus pandemic has driven online sales even higher.”

Because of this, the light-duty truck segment has followed the e-commerce curve, growing 49 per cent from 2014 to 2019 and with segment sales averaging almost 11,000 units each year for the five years.

“Hino has run a very strong second in that segment of the market averaging 2500 sales per year and recording a market share of 21 per cent,” Mr. Gillespie said.

Hino also aimed to sell more to business fleet and local government because of the advanced safety inventory and also the improved towing ability, now 3500 kg.

“We’re also going to be targeting the car licence light-truck market, where there’s a high demand for this class of truck fueled by a shortage of truck licensed drivers to supply the e-commerce world,” he said.

“Additionally, we’re also more strongly going after the trades market supported by our revised ‘Built to Go’ range to be launched later in 2020.

“The Built to Go range of Trade Ace and Tippers represents over 55 percent of Hino 300 Series sales each year,” he added.

Externally, the new 300 Series gets a different grille design and the addition of new daytime running lights.

There are no major changes to the chassis or drivetrain, with the 300 retaining the 4.0-litre or 5.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel mills and the choice of manual or either torque convertor automatic transmission, or in the case of the hybrid, an automated manual box. Most models can suit operators with car licences, as the models with higher GVM ratings are able to be downrated to 4495 kgs for those without light rigid truck licences.

Hino’s 300 Series has jumped into the lead when it comes to safety and performance with its latest versions for 2020 by the inclusion of Hino SmartSafe, making it Australia’s safest light-duty Japanese truck.

Newly added active safety features include a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Pedestrian Detection (PD), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS). The new models also include Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) as standard fitment.

These new active safety features are in addition to the already substantial standard safety features such as Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), reverse camera, dual SRS airbags, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes and UN ECE R-29 cab strength certification.

The new 2020 Hino 300 Series Hybrid model is Australia’s only light-duty hybrid electric-diesel truck and is now the first Japanese-manufactured light-duty truck in Australia to meet Euro6 exhaust emissions standards.

Hybrid models are available in four variants from the 616 Standard and Wide Cab car-licenced models through to the 716 Wide Cab and the 916 Wide Cab, which has a maximum Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of 8.5 tonne.

“With the introduction of the new 300 Series, we have expanded the range to more than 60 models including Standard Cab, Wide Cab and Wide Crew Cab configurations with both the four litre and high horsepower five litre engines available,” said Daniel Petrovski, Manager of Product Strategy for Hino Australia.

The range opens with the smallest 300, the 616 Standard Cab, in two wheelbases with the NO4C-WL engine producing 110kW (150hp) at 2500 rpm and 420Nm at 1400 rpm. This upgraded version of the NO4C engine now includes a new fuel and engine control system, improved filtration and air intake, a multi-V drive belt, new cooling fan and redesigned piston crowns.

In the 616, 716 and 816 Wide Cab models it’s mated to six-speed double overdrive, full automatic, whereas the Wide Cab 617, 717 and 917 models are equipped with the N04C-WM engine, which produces 121kW (165hp) at 2500rpm and 464Nm of torque rated at 1400rpm when matched to a six-speed single overdrive manual gearbox.

Higher performance is available with the Wide Cab 721 and 921 models where the Hino J05 5.0-litre engine rated is rated at 151kW (205hp) at 2650 rpm and 600 Nm at 1500 rpm and mated to the six-speed A465HD double overdrive automatic transmission. These can be driven on a car licence or rated at 6.5-tonne GVM for customers looking for a higher payload making it ideal for trades and councils that need extra power and filling what the company says is a “gap in our range”. Improvements have been made to the torque converter design with changes to the lock up and shift logic, resulting in improved drivability, transmission kick-down and hill climbing performance.

The 816 six-speed automatic and 917 six-speed manual Wide Cab 4×2 cab chassis versions with GVMs of 8000kg and 8500kgs respectively are powered by the NO4C-WL engine with 110kW at 2500rpm and 420Nm at 1400rpm or the NO4C-WM engine of 121kW at 2500rpm with peak torque of 464Nm rated at 1400rpm.

The 920 and 921 models can be rated at 8000 or 8500kg GVM (or downrated to 4495kg), with the JO5E -UH engine in the 920 manual producing 139kW (189hp) at 2600rpm, with peak torque of 510Nm rated at 1500rpm. The JO5E-UJ engine in the 921 automatic produces 151kW (205hp) at 2600 rpm, with peak torque of 600Nm rated at 1500rpm. All Wide Cab 5.0-litre models have a standard towing capacity of 3500 kg. All 4.0-litre and 5.0-litre models have EGR and DPR systems to meet Euro5 exhaust emission standards.

Hino’s 300 Series electric-diesel hybrid model is available as a car licence standard or Wide Cab model, as well as Wide Cab 6.5 and 8.5-tonne GVM.

It has an updated 4.0-litre N04C engine that produces 110kW (150 hp) at 3100rpm and together with the 35 kW electric motor the maximum torque rating is 470Nm at Euro6 emission levels.

Changes over the previous model include a new six-speed automated manual transmission with the high-torque electric motor mated at the front of the gearbox. It also has a 25kg lighter battery (still nickel-metal hydride as Hino claims this type is durable and reliable), new software and a new inverter.

“Independent back-to-back testing on the previous models have proven that fuel efficiency improvements of 21 per cent in real-world applications and conditions,” Hino said.

The testing was done on behalf of Woolworths and compared a new hybrid with a diesel equivalent, using the same bodies, payloads and routes.

The Albury city council has also ordered 14 hybrids which reflects a growing recognition of the economical advantages of diesel-electric trucks.

Hino Australia product strategy manager Daniel Petrovski said the hybrids were the next step on the way to Hino adopting hydrogen as a future fuel under the Toyota group umbrella.

He said that Hino sells an average of 50 hybrids a year and did not expect that sales figure to change with the new model. Cabin changes and upgrades are minor but include a new instrument display that is bigger and has a central speedo that is easier to read.

It adds a new 4.2-inch LCD multi-information display for the driver that is controlled via steering-wheels buttons that allow the driver to scroll through the menu without the hands leaving the wheel.

Now standard across the entire Hino range is a 6.5-inch multi-media touchscreen with AM/FM/DAB radio, USB and Bluetooth music streaming capability and mobile phone connectivity with voice dialing. It is also wi-fi connected so software can be updated.

Options for this unit includes connection to up to three additional cameras, digital, video camera recorder or DVR, tyre-pressure monitoring system and a truck-specific satellite navigation.

This sat-nav takes into account bridge weights, low-height access points and road restrictions around dangerous goods.

Hino said the 300 Series continues with the Hino Advantage service and business offerings. This includes capped-price servicing, telematics, Hino genuine parts, 24/7 roadside assist, Hino financial services and personalised customer-care support.

Mr. Gillespie said all Hino models can be financed through its partner Toyota Financial Services or Toyota Fleet Management.

The finance plans include the fully maintained operating lease (FMOL) version which he said can be a quite basic plan or be more complex where customers can include all types of maintenance items such as fuel, tyres, windscreens, insurance, the body.

This is all under a monthly investment. At the end of the lease terms, customers can return the truck under the FMOL program.

The company has also increased its presence in regional areas with the appointment of a new dealer in Ballarat and plans to increase dealer and service locations in more regional centres.

Hino posted its best-ever sales record in June 2020 with sales of 752 new trucks for the month. Its previous best month was March 2006 with 690 trucks sold.

Hino will next announce news of its EV plans and in the middle of 2021, unveil its new 700 Series range.

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