While Hino Australia has been  reticent to embrace pure battery electric trucks and leave  that area to SEA Electric  to buy Hino ‘Roller’ kits to assemble them as battery electric powered trucks under SEA’s badge, the company’s US subsidiary, Hino Motors Sales USA, has announced it is launching a range of medium duty battery electric Hino’s using SEA Electric drivelines but badged and sold as Hino’s through Hino dealer network.

The situation has struck T&B News as a strange anomaly, given the local company recently started labelling its Hybrid trucks  as ‘Hybrid Electric’ and its crisis stricken parent company Hino Motors in Japan doesn’t appear to have a pure battery electric truck on the horizon or anywhere near launch.

In fact parent company Toyota has been notably ambivalent about battery electric cars and trucks, but has been a pioneer and strong producer of hybrid powered as well as hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.

All this comes  in the week that major Japanese rival Isuzu, announced the launch of its next gen trucks including pure battery electric models.

T&B news understands that Hino USA, which is based in California, where increasing limitations on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles is placing pressure on all truck makers, had to take the initiative and source a battery electric alternative under pain of losing sales and the ability to sell trucks to customers in a market that is rapidly embracing zero emission vehicles. California’s Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) comes into effect next year and The ACT requires manufacturers who sell medium and heavy duty vehicles to sell zero-emissions vehicles as an increasing percentage of their annual sales from 2024 to 2035.  While the ACT originated in California, it can be adopted by other states under the authority of the Clean Air Act, with New York, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia all introducing similar legislation.

During a press conference at the US  Work Truck Week, Hino USA  announced the expansion of its range to include the new  electric vehicles. including  an electric version of its M- and L- Series medium duty trucks, which it will be branded Me Series and Le Series available, saying the new battery electric powered machines set to be on US roads in 2024.

Hino USA revealed it will begin production of the new vehicles by integrating the SEA Electric’s SEA-Drive power system at its own facilities in the USA

The US Class 5 Hino  M5e cab over and Class 6 L6e conventional bonneted models, debuted during the show, and will be equipped with battery capacities of 138kwH and 220kwH respectively.

“Starting in 2024, Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) mandates will kick off in California which is growing the demand for electric vehicles (EV), and many of our customers want to add pure EV’s to evaluate operational capabilities. Over the past several years, we have made significant strides in the push toward electrification,” said Glenn Ellis, President of Hino Trucks USA.

“This strategic collaboration with SEA Electric is part of our plan to provide powertrain options to meet the needs for our customers and markets throughout the United States,” he added. 

Hino Trucks’  says its national dealer network is well prepared for the coming electric changes.

The company said  that each dealer is already high-voltage trained as a result of Hino’s previous hybrid product and says they’re capable to service electric vehicles safely and efficiently.

“To further compliment the EV transition, Hino Trucks is building infrastructure to support these trucks with Hino INCLUSEV, a premier portfolio of end-to-end electric vehicle enablement – exclusively available through Hino’s nationwide dealer network,” the company said.

“This is a customer centric, dealer unified end-to-end EV enablement solution that includes consulting, sales, infrastructure, single-source financing, support and service,” it added.

“Hino Trucks is committed to delivering vehicles that provide our customers a sustainable option,” said John Donato, Hino USA’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

“With the support of Hino Edge telematics metrics and driver behaviors, we developed our strategy and best fit for our initial EV vocational offerings to include delivery and final mile applications. We’ve got the vehicles. We’ve got the support. We’ve got all the tools needed to help our current and future customers move closer to a cleaner future,” Donato added.