Hino’s new cabover Classes 4-5 models 155 and 195 – and hybrid-electric versions of the same – were introduced amid much fanfare at the recent Work Truck Show.
For Hino, it marked the first time the truck maker has launched a new model outside of the Japanese market first. Hino unveiled the new models in grandiose fashion to dealers, customers and media during a special unveiling March 8.
The new models were designed specifically for the North American market and will be well suited for urban deliveries, Hino officials said. Sumio Fukaya, president and CEO of Hino Motor Sales USA, said the new offerings will provide affordable and efficient solutions for companies operating in urban environments.
“We have seen the price of new vehicles soar as much as 22-25% over the past four years,” Fukaya said. “As such, we are seeing a trend where companies are moving towards less expensive, smaller trucks.”
He also noted the US is the only developed nation with a growing population, which will drive the shift towards more maneuverable cabovers.
“By 2020, according to the US Census Bureau, the US population is expected to reach 320 million people with 90% living in urban areas,” he said. “With more people living in urban areas, the need for more products to be delivered to those areas is a major contribution to the need for smaller, more maneuverable trucks.”
The 155 and 195 cabovers were built for North American drivers and can comfortably fit a driver who’s 6-ft.-6-in. with a size 13 boot, noted Glenn Ellis, vice-president of marketing and dealer operations for Hino. The new cab also offers “more storage and cup holder space than you’ll know what to do with,” he promised. Also key to North American customers is a standard 33-inch frame rail width with a 56,900-PSI frame. Fuel tanks are tucked out of the way between the frame rails and an angled windshield and narrow pillars provide excellent visibility for drivers. The new cab is aerodynamic too, offering about 29% less drag than some competitive models, Ellis claimed.
The new models are powered by the Hino JO5E Series engine rated at 210 hp and 440 lb.-ft. of torque and will utilize selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment. This allows the vehicle to meet stringent EPA2010 emissions standards without the use of EPA credits, Ellis noted.
The hybrid-electric versions – the Models 155h and 195h – share much of the same componentry that has made the Toyota Prius popular, officials said. Eric Smith, vice-president of sales with Hino Motors Canada said that at this time, only the Class 5 195h is planned for release in Canada.
The 155h and 195h feature Hino’s sixth generation hybrid system, Ellis said, adding “for the first time, the engine control unit and the hybrid control unit work in harmony to maximize the effect of the hybrid system.”
It may come as a surprise that Hino says it has built more hybrid trucks around the world – 10,000-plus – than any other manufacturer. One month prior to the launch, editorial director Lou Smyrlis was invited to Hamura, Japan, to tour Hino’s facilities, meet with its executive and clients. One of those clients was ITO-EN, the third largest manufacturer of soft drinks in Japan. ITO-EN, which is starting to become established in North American as well with its tea-based drinks, has been using earlier versions of Hino hybrids for five years to deliver its products to supermarkets and the more than 150,000 vending machines it services across Japan. The company was working towards a corporate policy to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% from 2004 levels by 2010 and since its manufacturing process is outsourced, the CO2 reduction was heavily reliant on the performance of its trucks. The company drivers of the city-bound trucks are expected to improve their fuel performance by 1% a year.
However, ITO-EN officials were open about the fact that the previous manual transmission hybrids were not up to their expectations. The manual transmission required strong driving techniques to achieve the best fuel efficiency but the congested streets in major cities such as Tokyo combined with the fact that ITO-EN drivers were in fact salespeople who drove a truck to deliver the product to their customers rather than professional drivers, was making that problematic.
ITO-EN officials were much happier with a test truck of Hino’s new generation hybrid and were experiencing 34% better fuel mileage over their straight diesel models. The automatic transmission was also something that they appreciated.
During the launch in the US, Hino said the hybrid is expected to lower emissions by as much as 25% with the corresponding gains in fuel efficiency. The system features an electric motor that assists during start-up and acceleration by providing 258 lb.-ft. of torque.
As is the case with the Prius, the engine shuts off when the driver steps on the brake to conserve fuel. The dash display turns green when the driver is operating the engine in its optimum range, providing visual confirmation the hybrid system is being operated efficiently.
Ellis said the new hybrids offer a five-year payback based on today’s fuel costs, without any government incentives to offset the higher purchase price. The non-hybrid 155 and 195 will also be “competitively priced” with other cabovers in the Classes 4 and 5 markets, Fukaya said.
The Models 155 and 195 will be available in Canada by early September, Hino Motors Canada predicts. The hybrid Model 195h will be available in December.
For more on editorial director Lou Smyrlis’ trip to Japan to see the new models prior to the launch, visit his blog at Trucknews.com.