Hino has introduced an automatic transmission to its 300 Series.     Picture: MARK SMYTH
Hino has introduced an automatic transmission to its 300 Series. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Hino briefed the media on the latest developments in its strategy at Nampo recently. One of its biggest issues is that of an ageing workforce, particularly regarding its sales staff, Hino SA vice-president Ernie Trautmann says.

"Seventy percent of Hino SA sales executives are older than 50," he says, adding transformation is also slow going.

"We need to improve our BEE component in truck sales," Trautmann says.

The company has introduced a new learnership programme to try to remedy this, taking on 12 students with the objective of injecting new, young blood into the company.

It is a problem the whole truck industry is facing, with many looking to the more glamorous car industry for sales and technical positions.

Hino SA says the dropside tipper is proving  popular in its smaller model.    Picture: MARK SMYTH
Hino SA says the dropside tipper is proving popular in its smaller model. Picture: MARK SMYTH

Aside from the need to bring in new blood, the company is also dealing with a challenging market, but Trautmann says the industry was surprisingly resilient in the first quarter of 2017. Dealing with unexpected challenges is also not easy.

"The cabinet reshuffle was not in anyone’s planning but fortunately the rand has remained quite resilient," he says.

That might help pricing but the industry is under pressure.

He points out that transport volumes are definitely down and this is affecting sales, particularly when it comes to the replacement cycle. The recent Transient tender did bolster the market slightly, but he says the market is nowhere near the 30,000 units required for real growth.

Rental options

The current slowdown is also having other ramifications. Rather than purchasing trucks, some operators are choosing to turn to the truck rental market instead. In addition, more operators are taking up longer service and maintenance plans, both of which also help with resale value in the longer term but also with allowing a truck to remain in a fleet for longer.

In terms of new models, the company is gearing up to introduce its new 500 Series in August that will be available with an automatic transmission and in a 6x4 configuration.

It has also introduced an automatic transmission to its current 300 Series range.

In the next few months the company will also announce a new partnership to supply more trucks into Africa.

For now Trautmann and his team are focused on meeting one of the biggest challenges to operators — maintaining costs, something that he stresses is extremely dependent on rand stability for the rest of the year.

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