Hino introduces conventional trucks

Sometimes a new truck event introduces a new truck. Hino's new truck event in late October 2003 introduced a new line of trucks produced and marketed by a newly reorganized company.

Hino, a builder of commercial trucks founded in Japan in 1942, has sold trucks in the US since early 1984. Worldwide, it produces about 70,000 vehicles annually.

In the US, the company is formally known as Hino Motor Sales USA and operates as Hino Trucks. Following an agreement signed in May 2003, the US operation is owned by Hino Motors Ltd of Japan, the majority stockholder, and by Mitsui & Company Ltd along with a stake held by PCP Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Penske Corporation. Toyota holds controlling interest in Hino.

As if to emphasize the change in corporate structure, the face of Hino trucks has changed radically, leaving the highly stylized circular “H” as just about the only vestige of the previous line of trucks. Until now, Hino, like nearly all other commercial vehicle importers, has marketed a line of low COE medium trucks. Beginning in January 2004, those trucks will be replaced by six new models in Classes 4 through 7, all with conventional cabs.

One cab, two BBC lengths

The same basic cab is used for all six models. The new truck line has two BBC lengths — 98 or 108 inches. Engine installation and displacement determines the BBC. Interior cab space is the same through the new Hino line.

Model numbers for the new trucks have been simplified to indicate gross vehicle weight and engine size. Trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings of 14,000 lb, 16,000 lb, and 18,000 lb all are powered by Hino's J05D-TA, four cylinder, five-liter diesel engine. Power rating for this engine in all three models is 175 horsepower. Trucks in this series are designated models 145-14 for the GCW and 5 for the engine displacement — 165, and 185. At the heavier end of the weight scale are the new models 238, 268, and 338. These trucks are powered by Hino's J08E-TA, six cylinder, eight-liter engine. The engine is rated at 220 hp in the models 238 and 268; it produces 260 hp for the model 338.

All models of Hino engines are fully compliant with the 2004 EPA emission standards. Exhaust gas recirculation along with a variable geometry Garrett turbocharger is used to meet emission requirements while preserving fuel economy.

The Garrett turbocharger provides a clue to Hino's plan for building the new line of trucks. At a time when many manufacturers are attempting to market vertically integrated powertrain components, Hino plans to provide vehicles with Hino engines along with powertrain and suspension components from US domestic vendors including ArvinMeritor, Allison, Dana, Eaton, and Hendrickson.

North American parts content

For instance, the 145, 165, and 185 trucks will use the Eaton Fuller FS4205 five-speed manual as their standard transmission and will offer the four-speed Aisin automatic transmission as an option. Aisin is one of the Toyota family of companies and has provided automatic transmissions to Hino for years. The standard manual transmission for the 238, 268, and 338 trucks is the Eaton Fuller FS5406, six-speed. The 238 and 268 models offer the Allison 2400 series five speed automatic as an option. The automatic transmission option for the Hino 338 is the Allison MD3060 five-speed. The entire truck line will use ArvinMeritor steering axles and drive axles. Front axle capacities are 5,360 lb for the 145, 6,000 lb for the 165 and 185, 8,000 lb for the 238 and 268, and 12,000 for the 338. Drive axle capacity is 9,880 lb for the 145, 11,000 lb for the 165, 13,000 lb for the 185, 17,500 lb for the 238, 19,000 lb for the 268, and 21,000 lb for the 338. Hino officials say that a 23,000 lb drive axle is under consideration for some heavier vehicle applications. Dana Corporation is Hino's driveline supplier.

The use of North American parts content in the trucks is explained by Hino's plans for producing the new product line. Although initial production begins in Japan in November 2003 for trucks to go on sale in the US in January 2004, the Japanese production run will not be a long one. The company has purchased a facility and will begin building the new truck line in a plant in Long Beach, California, by October 2004.

Prior to introducing the new truck line, Hino conducted a vehicle demographics study on the use and basing of trucks in the Class 4 through Class 7 categories. A large majority of straight trucks is based in cities and operate within a 200-mile radius of their home base. Hino believes that it can serve more than 80% of the potential straight truck market by clustering dealers around just 12 population centers in the US. Called CityPak within Hino, these dealer clusters are already in place as is a plan to provide future coverage in the central US, probably with dealers clustered around Denver or Kansas City. Current CityPak locations are Minneapolis, Chicago, the Great Lakes region (Cleveland), New York, New England (Boston), the Mid-Atlantic region (Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia), Atlanta, Florida (Miami-Dade), Texas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio), Los Angeles, Northern California (San Francisco, Oakland), and the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Tacoma, Portland). All are independent businesses. Hino has no plans for company-owned dealers, because independent operators are more successful than factory branches, the company says.

CityPak is more than just a cluster of independent dealers, Hino says. It is a plan for a real dealer network to provide seamless service to all Hino customers. To ensure a working network, Hino CityPak provides a constant inventory of new and used vehicles throughout a dealer cluster across the Internet. In addition, parts inventories are interconnected, giving dealers the ability to look up parts stocked at other dealers along with a standardized agreement for transferring parts between dealer locations. CityPak technology also provides a complete maintenance history for vehicles within the system, providing all dealers within a city cluster with the data needed to service any Hino truck.

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