HINO’S NEW PLANT & A BATTERY SAVER

Rolf Lockwood

June 7 Vol. 2, No. 13

The biggest news of the past couple of weeks on the product front isn’t about a specific bit of hardware, rather a factory. Hino Motors Canada has now officially opened its assembly plant just outside Woodstock, Ont. and is set to make about 1600 trucks a year for Canadian consumption. Capacity is 2000 a year on one shift.

Since their introduction in 2003, the “new concept” Hino conventional trucks, in class 4 through 7 configurations, have been built at the company’s plant in California. Having an assembly facility on Canadian soil will mean good things for the 32 dealers in this country, namely much shorter delivery times.

Hino has spent some US$32 million setting up the new factory, a 132,000-sq-ft former General Seating facility that’s being leased by the Japanese company. It receives cabs, engines, frame rails, and other components in knock-down kits from Japan, with about 45% North American content, much of it from Dana, Hendrickson, and Accuride plants in the same southwestern Ontario region. It’s an area so rich with automotive manufacturing facilities that Detroit and Michigan at large are getting nervous.

I can also report on success at the 43rd annual Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar held on the last three days of May in Toronto. The buzz around the Doubletree International Plaza Hotel was mostly about 2007 engines, not surprisingly. And if you haven’t already heard, Canada’s new Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year is Steve Plaskos. He’s manager of fleet services for The City of Toronto, overseeing almost 1000 vehicles and 90-some-odd 100 technicians. See our story elsewhere on the Today’s
Trucking website (www.todaystrucking.com/news.cfm?intDocID=16272). Congrats, Steve!

But on to products.

I start this time with a neat and tidy Thermo King refrigeration unit for straight trucks. The MD-100 features the advanced ‘Smart Reefer’ microprocessor with its simple keypad design and the ‘TherMax’ system that provides faster defrost and superior heating capacity. Comes with a
two-year warranty.

Then there’s an interesting and brand new product that could save your batteries from extinction. The Battery Brain is the child of an Israeli engineer and it simply monitors the state of charge, automatically cutting off power to all electrical components – except alarms and other devices, if you choose — when it senses that the batteries in a vehicle can’t ship out any more power and still have enough left to start the engine later. You install it on a positive battery post, a process that takes mere minutes, and then you’ll never run your batteries down to zero.

I could have used this gizmo the last time I had a truck for a couple of days, during which I took some kids for a ride. The bold and beautiful Western Star impressed them no end, not to mention the neighbors here in midtown Toronto, most of whom think my Durango is too big. Naturally, the kids crawled around the sleeper quite a bit and in their excitement they left the interior lights on. I neglected to spot this, and when I went to crank it up the next day, I had dead batteries. The Battery Brain would have saved my
bacon.

Interestingly, the company formed to launch this product in North America, Smart Energy Solutions based in Clifton, New Jersey, is headed by none other than Pete Mateja. In a previous life he was president of Navistar International Canada. Later he led the Automotive Parts Manufacturers
Association. He has high hopes for the Battery Brain, and I see no reason to disagree.

This newsletter is published every two weeks. It’s a heads-up notice about what you can see at www.todaystrucking.com where you’ll find in-detail coverage of nearly everything that’s new. Plus interesting products
that may not have had the ‘air play’ they deserved within the last few months. Subscribe today!

If you have comments of whatever sort, please contact me at
rlockwood@newcom.ca.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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