TOKYO. The success of its all-new Class 4/5 COE and hybrid in the U.S. is the key to transformation of Hino Motors Ltd. into “a global brand,” according to company president Yoshio Shirai. Although Hino has been in the North American market since 1984, the new light truck has been designed from the start to meet U.S. chassis standards and 2010 EPA emissions requirements, Shirai said during a news conference at the company’s Tokyo headquarters.
Acceptance of the new hybrid model by U.S. fleets will not only depend on “environmental awareness,” but also on its “price and performance satisfying rational economic requirements,” Shirai said.
Just as Japanese auto manufacturers changed the U.S. market by successfully introducing fuel-efficient compact cars some 40 years ago, Hino believes its new COE and existing Class 6/7 conventional can help move the American truck segment from large, heavy trucks to “minimum capacity trucks with maximum fuel efficiency,” he said. “That is the value we want to supply to the U.S market.”
Looking at the total North American market, the company expects to see Class 6/7 volumes return to 50% of the 100,000-unit peak last seen in 2006, according to Sumio Fukaya, president and CEO of the company’s American division, Hino Motor Sales USA. The following year should see volumes reach 60% to 70% of that peak, and return to the 100,000-unit level by 2013, he said during the Tokyo news conference.
Classes 4 and 5 should return to peak volumes on the same schedule, Fukaya said, while Class 3 will see more rapid growth.
Addressing questions about Hino expanding its North American offerings beyond Classes 4 to 7, Fukaya said the company had “no concrete plans for [introducing] a Class 8 truck.” Although heavy-duty trucks “are Hino’s traditional strength around the world, the North American Class 8 market is the stronghold of American truck manufacturers and is a very competitive,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of Hino bringing a Class 2 commercial van to North America, Shirai said vehicles below Class 3 will remain “the clear responsibility” of Toyota, Hino’s parent company.