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Hino ready to stretch its muscles in the UK

26th April 2007 Print
Hino ready to stretch its muscles in the UK Japanese truck maker Hino said at the NEC show that it would extend its range of chassis offered in Britain and Ireland, with its model 3815, a 7.5-tonner, likely to be among the first. It had its first UK showing at Birmingham, in dropside-bodied form. To European eyes, all Japanese 7.5-tonners with their small forward-control cabs look very much alike. On the road one would have to look hard to distinguish the Hino from its Mitsubishi or Isuzu rivals. Its 4 litre overhead camshaft diesel develops 150hp at 2700rpm and exerts 397Nm maximum torque at 1800rpm.

Hino heavy trucks, principally rigid eight-wheelers, assembled in the Republic of Ireland by the Harris Group from semi knocked-down kits shipped from Japan, have been marketed in the UK for nearly 20 years, albeit in fits and starts, according to demand. In buoyant market times where other makers were hampered by extended lead times, Hino was often able to offer near instant delivery, often of ready-bodied 32 tonne 8x4 tippers, typically to muckaway contractors who had just won a contract to start work immediately.

Since the announcement by Paccar about a year ago that it intended to ‘retire’ the Foden brand, Hino has been busy signing up disgruntled Foden dealers. Of the 16 Hino dealers in the UK, no less than eleven are ex-Foden outlets. The fact that Foden had traditionally been strong in the eight-wheeler segment made the move by Hino especially apposite. It also happened, fortuitously, soon after the launch of Hino’s new 700 Series heavy range with its stylish ‘European looking’ cab.

A line-up of 20 Hino 700 Series eight-wheelers, each in a different operator’s colours, in the outside display area at the NEC, served to drive home the seriousness of the challenge. Numerous show visitors asked the question: ‘what about 700 Series tractor unit availability?’. The answer is that because artics on Japanese roads run at much lower weights, there is no ready-made Hino model to suit our 40/44 tonne performance requirements.

Though no statement was put out at the show, it is understood that Toyota, which now controls Hino, has put more of its own go-getting management people into the truck maker, with a view to boosting its export market performance, notably in Europe. Many observers were asking rhetorically how long it would be before a reinvigorated Hino would wrest control of the UK/Ireland import/assembly operation from Mr Pino Harris, replacing it with a ‘Toyota UK style’ factory-owned business.

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Hino ready to stretch its muscles in the UK