Hino range refresh appears just around the corner

By: Steve Brooks


Word has it that the Japanese maker has big plans in play

Hino range refresh appears just around the corner
What's coming for Hino?

 

With Hino's medium-duty 500-series range having already undergone a thorough and highly successful upgrade, the light-duty 300-series is probably next in line for a major modernisation program, with the possibility of an official launch later this year providing the world doesn’t fall further into Covid-19 contraction. 

After that, it’s a fair bet there will be a dramatic revitalisation of the flagship 700-series family, when many of the safety and operational enhancements delivered in the reborn 500-series are likely to be carried over to its bigger brother.

Hino isn’t giving any clues about when a rejuvenated heavy-duty line-up might make an appearance, but our guess is the first half of 2021.  

Vitally, it remains to be seen if this generational update of its heavy-duty range will include a significant performance boost to Hino’s current 12.9 litre E13C six cylinder engine, but it would certainly be surprising if bigger grunt wasn’t part of a substantially upgraded package.

After all, European competitors are now comfortably pulling substantially bigger performance peaks from similar displacements. DAF’s latest MX-13 engine, for instance, now pulls up to 530hp (395kW) and more than 1,900 lb ft (2,576Nm) of torque from its 12.9 litre displacement while Volvo extracts 540hp and a touch over 1,900 lb ft from its evergreen D13C engine. Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz and Scania boast similar outputs from similarly sized engines. 

Yet perhaps the biggest influence for Hino to jump to higher levels of power and torque than currently available in its 700-series will be the fact that no other Japanese heavy-duty brand currently offers a 13 litre displacement. Not Fuso, not UD and critically, not market leader Isuzu. 

Sure, with its flagship GigaMax model, Isuzu is the only Japanese maker to currently offer a 500-something rating but it comes from a lumpy and largely outdated 15.7 litre engine limited to a relatively tame torque peak of 1,663 lb ft (2,255Nm).

In the modern world, engines of this displacement are dispensing at least 550 to 600 hp and a minimum 1,850 lb ft of torque. To offer less in this day and age is a distinct case of too much metal and not enough muscle. Or, simply inefficient.


More on Hino's partnership with Toyota on fuel cell development, here


It’s no secret, however, that Isuzu is in close contact with Cummins for a high performance engine in the 12- to 13-litre class but so far, and much to Isuzu Australia’s frustration, there’s nothing on the horizon to suggest a tangible example from this relationship will appear anytime soon. (We are, however, now starting to hear reports – very quiet reports – that a prominent Brisbane fleet operator is heavily involved in development and trials of a heavy-duty Isuzu model powered by a Cummins ISG 12 litre engine. Stay tuned, but right now that remains another story for another day.)

As for Fuso and UD, there’s no sign of their corporate master – Daimler and Volvo respectively – approving the use of ‘family’ engines in the 13-litre class for fear the Japanese brands would impact on sales of their European brethren.

All this points to a rare opportunity for Hino.

After all, with no corporate commercial clash deriving from its place as an offshoot of global car giant Toyota, Hino appears to have the potential to not only take a significant performance leap over its Japanese competitors in the heavy-duty class, but also become more of a challenger to the Europeans than ever before. 

Right now, the door is wide open for Hino but only time will tell if a new range of heavies will go far enough to turn what appears to be obvious potential into commercial reality.

The full story will be in the May edition of ATN.

 

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