Hino Australia’s general manager of network and brand development Bill Gillespie believes  the company’s strategy of offering its 500 Series Standard cab range equipped with a full safety package is being proven correct with sales of the medium duty model already ahead of target at the end of July.

The company’s sales are up year on year in a falling market and according to Gillespie the forward order bank is  healthy into 2020.

Despite this he says ‘the challenging economic headwinds’ will provide some testing times ahead particularly with the falling value of the Australian dollar   

Speaking at a media briefing event in Sydney Mr Gillespie told Truck and Bus News that  the company had sold 1038 of the Standard Cab 500 Series models up to the end of July with a target of moving 1300 of the models this year, a target he believes the company will easily exceed.

“There is very strong market acceptance for the safety package in the 500 Standard cab and that is being reflected in our sales numbers,” said Gillespie.

“Customers particularly the blue chip companies with a focus on safety and chain of responsibility are embracing the safety package we are offering in the  truck and are choosing to pay the extra premium because it is a better business proposition and more economical  in the long term,” said Mr Gillespie.

Mr Gillespie cited one company which had suffered at least two rollovers with medium duty trucks from another maker without active safety equipment, and was not happy about having its company name on the side of crashed trucks. While Mr Gillespie declined to name the company, he said they had recently purchased Hinos for the first time as a result of the safety package, and its recent past experience with trucks that were not equipped with active safety systems.

“Its becoming an increasingly common story we are hearing back through our sales team,” he said.

However currency fluctuations are a major challenge that will test the entire industry because even the local assemblers are reliant on imported parts.

The Australian dollar has dropped around 15 per cent in the past year against major currencies such as the US dollar and importantly for Hino the Japanese yen and Gillespie says price increases will be inevitable.

“The dollar drop will be good for exporters but it is a challenge for us as importers,” he added.

The shift in currency will see  the first price rises  for Hino next month with the 500 series FC model and the 300 series Hybrid trucks rising around two per cent.

Despite this Gillespie is upbeat about future prospects and says the underlying fundamentals are strong, and that new models on the horizon  will enable the company to continue its safety and equipment strategy.

“We have a new 300 series light duty range due in the final quarter of 2020 while there is also the prospect of a 700 Series heavy duty hybrid model to meet a growing demand for low and zero emission models,” he said.

“There is a growing interest in low emission solutions and Hino is in a strong position given we are a member of the Toyota family and we will have access over time to the full suite of powertrains from hydrogen to full EV, plug in EV, hybrid  or conventional internal combustion,” he added.