What customers want
Hino has expanded the appeal of its medium-weight 300-Series by adding some key models to the range. GAVIN MYERS experienced them.
The medium commercial vehicle (MCV) market is currently Hino South Africa’s stomping ground. During the first six months of this year the company has had a leading market segment share of 24,7 percent.
However, vice president of Hino South Africa, Ernie Trautmann, says this is a highly competitive market segment. The company has, therefore, expanded its 300-Series MCV contender to provide its most comprehensive product offering yet in this segment.
The expanded range, which will help the company achieve its target of 4 000 unit sales by year end, comprises three new crew-cab derivatives and four new automatics. An approximate body and payload allowance of between 3 390 and 5 950 kg is still on offer.
In response to customer feedback, the 714 and 915 manual transmission models are now available with a crew cab.
The 300 crew cab provides safe and spacious transportation for up to seven people and is already proving popular with municipalities, utilities and telecommunication providers. Rear passengers benefit from their own heating and air-conditioning system as well as cup holders.
The existing 815 automatic transmission crew-cab model has had its wheelbase shortened – again in line with customer feedback.
The six-speed automatic transmission fitted to this model is now also offered on the 614 and 714 short-wheelbase models. This smooth-shifting torque-converter ’box includes overdrive fifth and sixth gears for improved fuel economy. Drive goes to a full-floating, single-reduction hypoid rear axle.
All Hino 300 models are powered by a four-litre, four-cylinder Hino turbo-intercooled diesel engine in one of two states of tune – either 100 or 110 kW of power and 392 or 420 Nm of torque respectively.
Hino was very specific with its decision to equip the 300 with an automatic transmission and not an automated-manual transmission (AMT). Says Leslie Long, senior manager, marketing, product and demand planning at Hino South Africa: “The automatic provides smoother, optimal shifts with less lag between them. There is a lot less wear and tear on the transmission components and there is no clutch to replace. An automatic transmission is more effective from an efficiency point of view.”
Typical customers interested in the automatic models are cash-in-transit companies, the mining industry and bakeries – for which the company has developed a specific vehicle.
Hino feels that the new crew cabs (with their shortened wheelbase) and automatic models will help combat driver fatigue by easing the driving process and enhancing manoeuvrability.
This comfort and ease of driving was aptly demonstrated in the high-speed driving and simulated manoeuvrability and parking challenges Hino had lined up for us, at the media launch held at the Gerotek testing facility outside Pretoria.
Trautmann is, understandably, confident that the new additions to the 300-Series range will make Hino even more competitive in South Africa’s keenly contested MCV market. “The enlarged range emphasises the importance we place on customer and dealer feedback, while our customers continue to benefit from our strategy of continuous improvement,” he says.
An array of value-added Hino-Care services, including a 24-month/unlimited kilometre warranty, towing assistance and 24-hour roadside assistance, enhance the value proposition of the 300-Series.