Prospecton, Durban - Leading Japanese truckmaker Hino is rolling out a new generation of its 500 series trucks worldwide, ranging from 16 to 28 tons, and South Africa is next on the list.
The new ‘Wide Body’ trucks will go into production at Hino’s assembly plant at Prospecton in November 2017, largely replacing the current 500 series, which has been on sale locally for the past 14 years; only the six and eight ton models will continue unchanged.
Work on the new 500-series trucks began in 2010; the first concept was ready a year later but it took another four years of development before the first production models were released in 2015 in Indonesia, Hino’s biggest export market (South Africa ranks ninth).
The range has been extended by customer requests to include 6x4 models for the first time, and some variants will be available with a six-speed Allison automatic transmission.
The new trucks are manufactured in a specially built plant at Koga, about 120km north of Tokyo. The new factory is highly automated, including 95 percent of the cab welding and 95 percent of the painting being done by robots to ensure production consistency.
Koga is now the “mother factory” for Hino’s overseas operations, the base from which ‘completely knocked down’ kits are exported for assembly in 22 different country, including South Africa - which is why a group of South African trucking journalists were invited to visit Koga recently, to learn about the new 500 series, including being driven round the test track in the new models and a preview tour of the new factory ahead of its official opening.