Three key business segments that drive medium-duty truck purchases are vocational applications, construction, and government. Today, all three segments are struggling in a lackluster economy. This is best illustrated by the fact that medium-duty truck sales volumes in the fiscal year 2010 barely surpassed the disastrous 2009 market.
Among the 11 major OEMs manufacturing Class 4 through Class 7 trucks, total sales for FY2010 were 56,643 units. This compares to 154,690 units sold by the same 11 OEMs in FY2006. Sales for Class 4 through Class 7 trucks haven't been this low since the recession of 1991-1992.
Although still anemic, nationwide economic activity is improving. Historically, sales of Class 4 through Class 5 trucks are a bellwether indicator of the future vitality of overall medium-duty truck sales (Class 3 through Class 7), based on the industry's sales experience when emerging from past recessions.
For instance, when the truck industry emerged from the 2001 recession, sales for Class 4 and 5 GVWR models were 35% stronger than Class 6 and 7 trucks. Also, today's high cost of diesel fuel makes companies more receptive to downsizing to smaller, more fuel-efficient Class 4-5 trucks.
In this economic environment, Hino Trucks unveiled four newly designed 2012 model-year Class 4 and 5 cab-over-engine (COE) trucks in March at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. In addition to the traditional cabs, both all-new Class 4 and 5 models will offer a crew cab option, which will be available at the end of the calendar year 2011.
In the Class 4 market, Hino will offer the all-new 155 diesel model and a diesel-electric hybrid model, the 155h. The 155 and 155h models will carry a 14,500-lb. GVW rating.
In the Class 5 market, Hino will offer the all-new 195 diesel model and a diesel-electric hybrid model, the 195h. The 195 and 195h models will carry a 19,500-lb. GVW rating, with an optional, derate option to 17,950-lb. GVW.
Both models feature a standard 33-inch frame rail width, a 56,900-psi frame, and a standard center-mounted rear fuel tank.
The model names for the new COEs indicate the GVW and engine size of each truck. The first two digits in each model's name represent the GVW, while the third digit represents the liter displacement of the engine.
The powertrain for the Class 4 and Class 5 COEs is the J05E-TP, a 5.0L four-cylinder turbodiesel, which uses a selective catalytic reduction system. The four-cycle, water-cooled engine is coupled to an Aisin 6AT, 6-speed automatic transmission.
The J-Series diesel engine uses a high-pressure common rail fuel injector, which produces 210 hp at 2,500 rpm with 440 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500 rpm.
The two new COE trucks introduced in the U.S., with specifications specific to the U.S. market, are part of Hino's new 300 Series global products, which will be sold in more than 60 countries.
In addition to the diesel COEs, attracting much attention at the NTEA show was the debut of the all-new diesel-electric hybrid models.
"With the introduction of the new trucks, Hino Trucks is making the diesel-electric hybrid a viable option in the U.S. commercial truck industry for the first time," said Sumio Fukaya, president and CEO of Hino Motors Sales U.S.A.
The hybrids are equipped with a JO5E four-cylinder engine with more than 200 hp mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The diesel-electric hybrids are available in 14,500 lb. and 19,500 lb. GVWRs. The hybrid's electric propulsion system is powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery.
Digging into the New Models
Last February, Hino Trucks invited Work Truck magazine to Japan to get a sneak preview of the company's all-new Class 4 and Class 5 COE diesel-powered trucks and the diesel-electric hybrid models. The meeting included test drives of Hino's entire product line at the company's test track, a tour of its Hamura assembly plant, product briefings by the company's head engineers and senior management, and a visit to ITO EN, one of the company's largest fleet customers.
Hino hopes to increase its Class 4-5 market share from the additional sales of the hybrid models. "Volume is very dependent on market recovery. We have set our goal at 30-percent market share in the Class 4 and Class 5 cabover markets by 2013, and we would like to see hybrids make up 30 percent of our cabover sales," said Fukaya.
Hino is bullish about the future market acceptance of hybrids. "We believe the demand will be high and can reach as much as 15 percent of the light-duty market by 2015," said Fukaya. "If the cost of hybrid systems comes down enough for customers to consider them at a more reasonable price, and performance meets customer expectations, demand is likely to increase rapidly."
Due to initial product availability, the hybrid models will follow a "rollout" approach, and in December 2011 will be available in the following markets: the New York City metro area, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and California.
"The aim of a hybrid system is to improve fuel efficiency by recovering braking energy and using it to assist the engine by providing auxiliary power. The more opportunity there is for such regenerative braking to occur, the more hybrid efficiency potential can be realized," said Yoshio Shirai, president of Hino Motors Limited. "Thus, a frequent stop-and-go, city street driving pattern should produce very strong results. When developing our new hybrid model, we conducted surveys with actual customers in various regions of the North American market."
Prior to their formal introduction, Hino sought feedback of its hybrid models from FedEx, Staples, Apria Healthcare, Wonder Ice Cream, Five Star Food Service, Matt's Distributing, and Frito-Lay, to name a few. Additionally, Hino has been running a test fleet in the U.S. and Canada. The test in Canada was primarily cold-weather testing.
In May 2010, Hino Trucks provided a 155h to the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY). As part of its initiative to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, DSNY is using the diesel-hybrid COE for parts delivery. The Hino diesel hybrid COE has a GVWR of 14,500 lbs. and a 16-foot van body.
"The Hino hybrid has been running a dedicated route supplying our service centers and has been performing very well," said Rocco DiRico, deputy commissioner of support services for DSNY. "The fuel-economy advantages and reduced CO2 output provided by the Hino hybrid truck support our environmental initiative."
The DSNY was selected by Hino to demonstrate the hybrid models' capabilities in severe-duty applications. "Hino's hybrid technology is well suited to meet these challenging needs and we look forward to demonstrating our capabilities to DSNY," said Glenn Ellis, vice president, marketing and dealer operations for Hino Motors Sales U.S.A., Inc.
Opportunity to Grow Fleet Sales
Hino Trucks is a Toyota Group Company headquartered in Novi, Mich. It assembles, sells, and services Class 4-7 commercial trucks in the U.S. It has developed a variety of trucks with vocational bodies and equipment. The expanding vocational breadth of Hino trucks now includes snow plow, utility, delivery, and shuttle and ambulance applications. Hino is aggressively marketing to an expanded vocational market.
In July 2009, GM shut down its TopKick and Kodiak lines, which represented more than 10 percent of the medium-duty production capacity in the U.S. Hino sees this market shift as an opportunity to expand market share. "GM had strength in buses, ambulances, and vocational markets. This is where we have strength and plan to grow," said Shirai. "We have been working on a school/shuttle bus chassis, ambulance chassis, and our vocational specs. These are areas GM was strong in and are now up for grabs."
In January 2010, Hino completely restyled its Class 6 and 7 truck lineups. Hino's Class 6 truck line includes the 238, 258ALP, 258LP, and 268/268A. Its Class 7 lineup includes the 338/338CT. Today, Hino's entire product line is less than two years old.
In a push to expand market share, Hino is targeting the food/beverage distribution, utility market, telecommunications, parcel/document delivery, landscape, and service vocations - segments where truck sales are expected to grow.
"The U.S. is the only developed nation where the population is still growing at a rate of 1 percent annually. Our conventional products are already well received in food and beverage distribution and the service segment. With an increasing population, these fields will offer continued growth moving forward," said Shirai. "Our new cabover will offer us a tremendous opportunity to gain market share in the Class 4 and 5 segments. For our conventional products, the municipal and utility segments are areas of renewed focus and by continuing to further our localized sourcing and production, we anticipate all of our conventional models will clear the 'Buy American' regulation by the year after next. Some of our models already meet these standards."
Hino will use two ports of entry for the U.S. The East Coast port of entry is Baltimore. The anticipated average order-to-delivery (OTD) time for vehicles shipped from Japan to Baltimore is expected to be 110-120 days. The West Coast port will be San Diego, which will have an average OTD time of 100-110 days.
In 2008, Hino created a quick delivery body program by partnering with several body companies. Marathon Industries is the designated West Coast body company, and America's Body Company (ABC) is the East Coast body company.
"The COE market buyers want vehicles in 10 days so they can put them to work," said Ellis.
All-New Truck Cab
The new COEs feature all-new cab styling, which includes wide-view pillars for enhanced visibility. The new styling also makes the cab very aerodynamic.
The cab was designed for easy entry and provides optimized driver positioning. Hino describes the cab as an intelligent package that can accommodate a wide range of heights through increased seat and steering column adjustability. The cab interior provides seating for three and was designed to accommodate drivers whose heights range from 4 feet 8 inches to 6 feet 6 inches. Also new is a passenger-side open tray on the dash. An arm rest is also an available option.
In addition, a crew cab version will be available in December 2011.
A Pioneer in Hybrid Systems
The 155h and 195h will be offered in two GVWs, which include a traditional cab and crew cab. However, it is anticipated that the majority of models ordered by dealers and fleets will be equipped with the standard cab. It is also anticipated that the crew cab versions will represent approximately 10 percent of the COE market, used mostly by landscapers and municipalities.
As a Toyota Group company, approximately 60 percent of Hino's hybrid components are common to Toyota, which helped reduce manufacturing costs. Hino anticipates hybrid customers will receive an ROI in five years.
The hybrid system is designed to operate at the highest efficiency during frequent stop-and-start driving. The target fuel economy was a 30-percent improvement over a diesel engine certified to the EPA 2007 standards in a running mode, while half loaded.
The 155h and 195h hybrid powertrain is the J05E engine motor with a parallel hybrid system. In the parallel mode, the hybrid system assists the engine during acceleration. During deceleration, the system goes into a regeneration mode to recharge the battery. It uses a modified nickel-metal hydride battery, which is also used in the Lexus hybrid models, but adapted for commercial vehicle usage. The battery's projected life is eight to 10 years. Altogether, the hybrid system adds 440 lbs. to the vehicle's curb weight.
The current third-generation Hino hybrid provides for more efficient regeneration than the previous generation hybrid model. One goal in the development of the new COE hybrid models was CO2 reduction through idling reduction.
There is a D-range idle stop to reduce fuel consumption while idling. The D-range idle stop will continue so long as the driver keeps his or her foot on the brake. This feature is only available in the hybrid model.
There is also a dual-mode driving switch, which is the eco-mode option. The dash has a hybrid indicator and eco lamp. In the eco-mode, the engine ECU modifies shift time to keep the engine running at lower revolutions per minute (RPM).
In addition, the battery hybrid system is designed to shut off when it gets down to 30 percent. This is the minimum amount needed to crank the engine.
Hino has been a pioneer in developing hybrid technology starting in the 1970s. In 1991, Hino was the first OEM to launch the world's first mass-produced bus powered with a diesel-electric hybrid system. In 2003, Hino launched the Hino 300 Series Hybrid light-duty truck in Japan. The cumulative production of Hino hybrids from fiscal year 1991 to 2010 was 10,962 units.
Hino's first-generation hybrid was designed to lower emissions and maximize fuel economy. In the first- and later second-generation hybrids, the company changed components to make the system more reliable. In addition, it decreased the number of components used in the hybrid system. In the second- and third-generation hybrid systems, there were performance improvements, such as a new clutch and ECU program, which allowed for better communication between the engine and the hybrid. Also the motor and inverter of the hybrid adaptive control system were redesigned to keep the engine operating at its optimal "sweet" spot.
Currently, all hybrid models will be built in Japan. No production is slated for the West Virginia plant, which requires a 7,000-unit volume as a critical mass to justify production.
In addition to the U.S., the hybrid COEs have also been introduced in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and Mexico.
Hino 338 Wins Medium-Duty Commercial Truck of the Year
Hino Trucks' 338 model (Class 7) won the Medium-Duty Commercial Truck of the Year Award in 2011. The award marks the second consecutive year that the American Truck Dealers (ATD) division of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has bestowed this honor on Hino after its 268 model received the same accolade in 2010.
The competing trucks were judged on innovation, design, fuel economy, driver and owner satisfaction, ease of maintenance, and safety. The judging panel consisted of journalists from leading truck publications in North America.
The 33,000-lb. GVW, 2012-MY Hino 338 model features Hino's J08E series 8.0L diesel engine, which produces 260 hp and 660 lb.-ft. of torque. The 338 is used in a variety of vocations, such as beverage delivery, construction, utilities, petroleum/gas delivery, waste/recycling, and municipalities.
Hino Trucks Debuts Hino INSIGHT Telematics System
Hino Trucks launched "Hino INSIGHT," a comprehensive Web-based location and telematics solution for the medium-duty commercial truck market. Hino's system provides GPS-based, remote fleet management capabilities, with applications for driving efficiencies, safety, security, customer satisfaction, and green initiatives.
Hino INSIGHT is currently offered for Hino's 2008 through 2012 model-year trucks, with customized solutions available to incorporate most GVW Class 1-8 vehicles for vocational fleet management applications.
Hino Trucks and its telematics technology partner, WebTech Wireless, invested more than two years and more than 1 million miles of real-world testing to develop the fleet management system.
The INSIGHT system includes a mix of premium and Hino-exclusive services ranging from route tracking, geofencing, advanced vehicle administration, and planned maintenance management to real-time Hino proprietary diagnostics alerts, custom fleet performance dashboard reporting, and remote door unlock telemetry.
One element to Hino INSIGHT is the "Dashboard" main page of the HinoInsight.com Web portal, specifically designed for fleet managers to gain a daily snapshot of their fleets' critical diagnostics status and performance against established targets. The INSIGHT Dashboard allows fleet managers to simultaneously access real-time vehicle and driver-related information, including key metrics such as:
- Hino proprietary diagnostics critical alerts.
- Idle time fuel savings opportunity calculator.
- Targeted fleet performance for speed, acceleration, braking, and fuel usage.
- Identification of trucks with the greatest performance improvement opportunities.
- In-route/driving fuel economy versus overall fuel economy.
- Operating time utilization (drive time, idle time, and PTO time).
- Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank level monitoring.
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