Hino’s heavy commercial sales, which included the new Hino 500 Wide Cab (pictured), were up 19.3% in SA last year.
Hino’s heavy commercial sales, which included the new Hino 500 Wide Cab (pictured), were up 19.3% in SA last year.

Hino SA will have to consider increasing its production capacity in the assembly plant in Prospecton, near Durban, as projected sales of 4,950 units for 2019 will be close to the plant’s single-shift capacity of 5,000 units a year.

Hino has a sales target of 7,550 trucks a year in SA by 2025.

The company is eyeing increased export volumes as it now supplies SA-specification trucks to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi in addition to those in the SA Customs Union, where Namibia is showing growth. In the long term this increase in demand could result in expansions to the production plant.

Ernie Trautmann, vice-president of Hino SA, said he expects the South African truck market to continue to virtually stagnate in 2019, as it has done for the past two years, at least until the national elections  are over. He said that the first month of 2019 was already proving slow in terms of sales.

Hino, together with the Toyota Dyna light truck range, had a good year in 2018 in terms of sales, moving 4,318 units. Dyna sales, which are now recorded in the light commercial vehicle segment, jumped 63.9% from 681 units in 2017 to 1,116. Pure Hino sales totalled 3,202 units which equated to 11.6% of the total South African truck market.

Hino’s medium commercial vehicle sales were down 3.5% on 2017, largely due to a stock shortage as forecasts were cut after a 5% dip in overall truck sales in the first half of 2018. However, Hino’s heavy commercial sales, which included the new Hino 500 Wide Cab models, were up 19.3% and its extra-heavy sales increased by 8.9% for 17.3% growth in combined Dyna and Hino sales.

Trautmann said that sales trends in the Hino 300 and 500 ranges show the strong swing to automatic transmissions versus automated manual transmissions (AMT) and manual gearboxes.

Hino SA’s plans for 2019 and beyond include the establishment of a dedicated department to look after the extra-heavy-commercial segment of the market, which is showing significant growth.

Trautmann also announced that Hinomatics, a locally-developed telematics system, will be released later in 2019 . A basic system will be fitted to certain Hino models and then it can be customised to suit specific customer requirements.

Another new arrival will be an updated e-Hino communication system between Hino SA and its dealer network, which will be more effective than its long-running predecessor.

 In 2019 Hino will also see the fruits of a 24-month programme to offer price-competitive service and maintenance plans to customers, particularly those operating 300 and 500 series Hino trucks.

Another customer benefit will come in the form of the establishment of Hino Financial Services as an accredited finance house and no longer as a subdivision of Toyota Financial Services.

There is not a great deal coming from Hino in terms of new product following the full model change Wide Cab 500 series launch in 2018 , although a 1627 crew cab freight carrier will be added to this range in March with a choice of automatic or manual transmission.

Hino is concentrating on adding more standard safety and driver-support features to its trucks and these benefits will flow into the local market in the future.

Future alternative-fuel plans for Hino both globally and here in SA include a number of Hino 300 diesel-electric hybrids being put into operation locally in a controlled environment. By 2025 Hino plans to have four alternative fuel platforms for its trucks, namely diesel-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, pure electric power, and hydrogen fuel cells.

Relevant models will be considered for introduction in SA.

Hino has introduced a buy-back programme, made possible by the launch of Hinomatics, that will enable dealers to monitor the usage of the buy-backs so they can be sold as used trucks with confidence. This will in turn lead to the introduction of a structured Hino used truck market, said Trautmann.