Diesel News got the opportunity to take a couple of new Hino 500 models out on the road, south out of Sydney, into and then up and an over the Illawarra region. This is a good workout for a new driveline, tackling some serious grades, plus a chance to test out the latest in safety technology in the busy traffic of the area.
The differentiation in the Hino 500 Standard cab naming comes from the cab type, the GCM and the hp rating of the engine. Hence, the FD1126 has a bigger cab, a 11 tonne GCM and 260hp engine. The FC is the day/rest cab, the FD, up to 12 tonnes, and FE, at 14 tonnes, are bigger and are actually approved by the sleeper ADR, but Diesel wouldn’t recommend trying to sleep in them often. The 14 tonne GVM is becoming a popular choice from a lot of truck buyers at the moment. Operators are trading down from the bigger 16 tonne GVM are choosing the much lighter, lower, and cheaper, 14 tonner without losing much payload.
The two trucks involved in the Diesel News test drive were the Hino 500 FE1424 and the FD1126. Both were loaded up and ready to go. First impressions come from the driveline. Start the truck up, pull the lever on the transmission control to D, release the hand brake and hit the go pedal. The difference is immediately felt as the torquey engine pushes up through the gears and gets the truck up to speed.
There is a stark difference between this engine and its predecessors. The driver doesn’t need to look at the tachometer reading to see what’s new, they just have to listen to the engine note. The engine revs like a top power 15-litre in a B-double prime mover. The needle rarely goes past 1500rpm in normal driving unless the driver pushes harder on the accelerator to signal to the auto gearbox that swift acceleration is required.
It is a good job most of the early sales of this truck have been autos as the engine performance would be confusing for anyone used to driving a run-of-the-mill Japanese medium duty truck. A good deal of work is going to be needed from Hino to re-educate the drivers on how to to avoid high revs and get the best out of these trucks, especially the manuals.
At one point on the way back to Sydney, pulling up a relatively steep climb, this driver decided to leave the truck in sixth gear and see how well a loaded truck would handle the grade. It simply dug in and hung on. From the driver’s seat the temptation was to give it one, or even two, gears to get some revs back in the engine, but even as it dipped below the 1000rpm mark, it kept on keeping on.
On the outward journey the engine brake shows its mettle. In recent years the excellent sensing system on the Allison auto has brought some effectiveness the exhaust brake, but this new engine brake takes it to a whole other level. This retardation compares well with the kind of engine braking we have become used to at the top of the heavy duty market, although with one position, either off or on.
The way this retardation plays out in the busy Sydney traffic with the auto box, sees the truck moving along through the traffic but when the traffic lights turn red, the driver takes their foot off the gas and the combination of the strong engine brake and smart down-shifting by the Allison box virtually bring the truck to a standstill. The driver simply applies the footbrake to bring the truck to a halt at the line.
On the drive the reason for the 75 per cent preference for auto transmission becomes very clear. The Allison box does monitor what is going on with all of the truck systems and acts accordingly. When the driver wants to get going, the transmission drops a gear to get speed up. When the driver is backing off and putting the engine brake on, the Allison drops one or two gears to get the revs up and maximise retardation. When the truck is climbing but the driver is only gently pressing the accelerator, the gear remains unchanged and the truck lugs up the grade.
This combination of smart shifting and a low revving engine would suggest there will be some real fuel saving opportunities with these trucks. According to Hino, the anecdotal evidence from the operators who have already driven these trucks is looking good. No doubt when more operators show the level of fuel saving possible, Hino will not be slow in telling the world about it.
In the traffic and out on the more open highway, the ACC comes into its own. The controls are simple to use and at the driver’s fingertips on the steering wheel. The crisp image on the dash LCD straight in front of the driver gives a clear indication of the set distance and another part of the screen tells the driver the set cruise speed, distance to the vehicle in front and the overrun speed at which the engine brake has been set top activate.