Hino launched the new 500 Series models at Futuroad.     Picture: HINO SA
Hino launched the new 500 Series models at Futuroad. Picture: HINO SA

Hino used the recent Futuroad Expo at Automechanika SA to preview its new 500 Series models which will go on sale when production begins at the company’s plant in Durban in November.

Known as the 500 Wide Cab, the company assembled a number of pre-production units back in May to test them against its QDR (quality, durability, reliability) philosophy.

The company is also aiming to increase its share of the extra-heavy commercial vehicle market from the current 4% to 6% says Hino SA vice-president, Ernie Trautmann. At the same time, he says the company wants to boost its share of the heavy segment from 18% to 23% as it continues its strategy to be number one across the entire truck market in SA by 2020.

The 500 Series will be crucial for this, but Trautmann says the brand will also add one final pillar to the plan in the form of the 700 Series at a later date.

Hino SA brought out one of its most important people for the reveal. Masahiro Kumasaka is senior GM of the product planning division at Hino in Japan, but he is generally referred to internally as the chief of chief engineers at the company.

Kumasaka says that the design of the 500 Series will lead the way for the next generations of all Hino models. He says it will continue to provide quality while also maintaining a high level of customisation.

The new generation replaces the current model which has been around for more than 14 years, says Donald Mengas Mokoena of product planning at Hino SA. He points out that Hino Japan sent technicians to SA for three weeks in order to assess the local conditions and get an idea of customer requirements before planning the new model.

The range will expand from the current five to 14 models with the first ones arriving in November. The range will continue to expand with new models arriving in 2018 and 2019.

The range will include wider choices of suspension and automatic transmission options as well as four 6x2 versions, up from the current one. Wide Cab versions will start from 16-tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM) but there will also be non-wide cab derivatives with a lower GVM, although ultimately these will be replaced too as part of the roll-out of the full 500 range.

There will also be new 6x4 models featuring the 11l engines as well as on-road and off-road cabs. Further options will include high and low-cab versions for varying applications.

There will be new Allison automatic transmissions available as part of a more extensive selection of gearboxes throughout the range.

Mokoena said "these are not transmissions imposed on us, they are selected for us".

Other changes with the new model include height control on air-suspension equipped versions, multiple airbags and a headlamp beam distance that has increased from 67m to 80m to improve visibility at night.

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