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Future models - Hino - 300 Series - 4x4

Hino 300 Series 4x4 coming to Australia

Gaining traction: Hino already has an extensive range of 300 Series trucks on offer for Australia, and an all-paw version will broaden the line-up in 2017.

Four-wheel drive variants added to Hino 300 Series light duty truck range in 2017

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Hino logo24 Nov 2015

HINO is planning to attract key new customers to its 300 Series truck range, with a go-anywhere 4x4 version of the light-duty model on its way to Australia in 2017.

The 300 Series had a warm reception when the new version arrived in mid 2014, with the company's 22 per cent segment target already exceeded. A new 4x4 offering could push that figure even further, according to Hino.

Local testing of the 4x4 is already under way, with the all-terrain 300 covering many kilometres of Australian dirt near Cairns in north Queensland, but Hino Motor Sales Australia senior divisional manager Bill Gillespie told GoAuto the variant was still another 18 months away.

“In the middle of 2017, the plan is to launch at a dealer meeting in February, and have its public launch in May at the Brisbane truck show,” he said.

Mr Gillespie explained that a majority of fleets prefer to keep parts and inventory stock to a minimum by operating just one brand, and some potential customers had been lost to rivals who can provide a light 4x4 as well as the heavier-duty models.

“It will open up some opportunities for us because at the moment many of the fleets are running 4x2 and 4x4,” he said, “but we don’t have a 4x4, so if they want to use common parts then we lose the 4x2 sale as well.”

One such customer is the Country Fire Authority (CFA), which uses light-duty 4x4 trucks to access remote areas, and has already invested in some of Hino's larger offerings such as the 500 Series.

“Even though it’s only 200 (units), it gives us access into a broader range of other customers. We do very well with CFA, but we can't fill their light duty (requirements),” said Mr Gillespie.

Now that Hino can offer a more comprehensive range, larger potential fleet operators have one fewer reason to shop elsewhere, and although 300 Series sales may not experience a significant boost, there would be a knock-on effect to the rest of the line-up.

The added traction and safety of the 4x4 would also appeal to the mining segment, but even though the industry is experiencing a downturn, Mr Gillespie explained that it was not a dying segment and there are plenty of other potential customers.

“For us, that product is pretty important product,” he said. “Timing is everything. The mining market is down and that’s mainly where (4x4s) are selling, but it was more for servicing the mine rather than working it.

“There are still lots of councils, local government, fire authorities. A lot of rental companies as well.”

The 300 Series has a strong following in Thailand, and Mr Gillespie explained that the Asian demand had been instrumental in the availability for Australia.

“We have been screaming for that product for years and it wasn’t until Thailand indicated they had a requirement as well that they put it into production,” he explained. “Just building it for the Australian market, the volumes aren’t there.”

Hino Australia chairman and CEO Steve Lotter highlighted the challenges of the Australian market, which has a relatively low population and a very high corresponding number of brands to chose from.

“We are a very demanding market. If you can be successful in this country, you can be successful pretty much anywhere,” he said.

Hino has not yet released exact specifications or which cab, chassis and body variants the 4x4 transmission will be offered in, but Mr Gillespie said it would share the existing range's equipment including ESC as standard.

In June 2014, Hino became the first brand in Australia to introduce ESC as standard on its light duty truck range.

The range update also brought the option of a high-output 5.1-litre engine, which is borrowed from the larger Hino 500 medium-duty model.

To the end of October, Hino has sold 1778 300 Series, putting it in second place behind the Isuzu N Series, which has moved 2814 units.

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