Following the world first preview of the new 4×4 300 series offering, Hino has revealed the project has taken more than a decade to get off the ground.

According to Hino Australia’s product strategy manager Daniel Petrovski, the conversation about a 4×4 model began in the early days of the 300 series’ development.

“This product has been more than 10 years in the planning. The first-time Hino Australia officially spoke to Hino Japan about it was 14 years ago,” Petrovski said.

“We’ve been doing research even before the launch of our 300 Series in 2011. Talking to customers back in 2007, ’08, ’09 for the final stage of that product we were been asked when we would bring a 4×4 to the market to give them an option other than what was available out there.

“That kicked off in my thought and planning that we need to fill that niche because our customers want something. It’s taken a long time and they’ve put a lot of work into making sure it was right.”

Hino admits it is a small market for the light duty 4×4 but core customers in fire services and mining sectors were a key consideration in its development.

“We’re not going out there to steal market share, we’re going to provide those customers who want this truck with a solution,” Petrovski told Truck and Bus News.

“Fire and mining are the main markets. The mining application and mining support sectors are probably the highest on our customer list requesting this vehicle.

“The market in 2012 was just over 1,000 trucks. Last year it was just over 500 trucks. If we look at where Hino sells, it’s going to be Isuzu, Hino, Fuso in that space.

“We have great expectations but we don’t want to go out there and buy market share with this truck. This is a solution for those who don’t have a product out there good enough for their application.”

Petrovski also alluded that many fleet operators are brand loyal and not being able to offer the complete gamut of trucks would potentially mean missing out on business across all specifications.

The 4×4 300 Series has been developed to meet Australian customers’ demands and has undergone testing down under rather than in Japan. Though it was designed for Australia, Hino has confirmed it won’t be exclusively for our market.

“Not content with developing the truck on the test tracks of Japan, the prototype 300 series 4×4 vehicles have also undergone years of real-life infield testing,” Petrovski added.

“The test vehicles have operated flawlessly across various types of terrain from the deserts of Australia’s interior to the rainforests of far northern Queensland’s Cape York.

“We’ve basically taken what we have as the best 4×2 product and we’ve built the best 4×4 product on that base,” he said.

While Hino remains tight lipped on the final specifications of the truck ahead of its launch in early September, Petrovski says we can expect much of the same figures as the 4×2 version and the Japanese brand’s usual safety features.

“In terms of differences, in reality it’s the 4×4 drive train. We’ve still got market leading four-litre, 165hp, 464Nm engine – so we’ve got the efficiency there,” he said.

“We’re running six speed transmission, while our competitors all run five speed and our safety levels are above anything else out there.”