Driving the new Standard Cab Hino 500 does beg a question about what is going on here, is this the big little truck or the little big truck? Even if you don’t know the answer, it is clear this new model has a lot going on and has introduced some new concepts into the medium duty truck market.
These Hino 500 Standard Cab models are one of those invisible segments of the market, overshadowed by the bigger, more glamorous and exotic trucks on our highways. The humble little 11 tonne GVM truck is one of those unsung workhorses of the transport and logistics world.
The Hino 500 Standard cab 1124 and 1126 are simply a platform on which to carry something from A to B, whether it be a pile of parcels, a broken down car, a few pallets of beer or a small tankful of liquid. The job is rarely noticed and only rarely over a long distance, but every town will have plenty of trucks like this going around keeping the wheels of business rolling.
Of course, it is not just the Hino which goes unnoticed, it is all of the trucks of this size doing this kind of work which go largely unnoticed or uncared for. What sets the new Hino apart is how this new model has introduced a step-change into the way we have to think about truck design in this part of the market.
Having said all of these positives about the new 500, the fact of the matter is it is still just a truck and one which will perform some pretty mundane tasks in the overall freight tasks of its working life. The chances are the driver who takes this out of the yard and around town every day will have little idea about what is going in the truck. It’s the nature of the beast, just get the freight on the truck, off the truck and make sure you get the con notes signed.
This thought provokes another question for Hino. Why throw so much innovation and sophistication at such a mundane truck? The answer to this one is probably, because they can. This truck is made in this way, not just because it can, but because Hino believes it can demonstrate the value of what it is bringing to the table to anyone who cares to look.
The whole 500 Series Standard cab range brings a much more sophisticated platform to the table but these 11 tonne GVM examples also bring another innovation to the table, a five- litre engine which will knock your socks off. The new power plant comes from a bit of pragmatic lateral thinking back in Japan, but sets a new precedent here in Australia.
What has to change, as from now, is our idea of what a Japanese truck is like and how it performs. The old way of thinking about what a Japanese truck is like and how it performs which has been less and less accurate in the past ten years.
The change can be traced back to the change in the Japanese economy. After decades of steady growth and an economy in, seemingly, permanent boom, when Japanese truck makers were driven by a growing domestic demand, overseas sales for the truck makers were an afterthought and very little adaptation to target markets took place.
All of this changed when the Japanese economy tanked in the late nineties and didn’t improve much before the GST hit ten years later. This ongoing period in the doldrums meant the truck manufacturers had to wake up to export markets and starts to think seriously about non-domestic truck sales and adapting design to suit operators other than the Japanese.
This has seen an unprecedented series of developments in Japan, alongside the purchase of two major Japanese players, UD and Fuso, by European truck makers. Research and development dollars have been used to ensure from the outset that new designs are suited to the rest of the world, as well as the Japanese home market.