Truck sales in South African for 2021 are likely to fall short of their potential due to ongoing stock shortages, according to Leslie Long, Senior Manager – Product Planning and Marketing at Hino SA.
With a potential of around 25 000 units for the year, he expects the shortages to limit that to 24 000 units.
“We have been surprised at the quick recovery of the local truck market after the pandemic-induced lockdowns and stress of 2020 but believe that a realistic growth figure for 2021 over 2020 will be 9%, based on a predicted market of 24 000 units. We are aiming to increase our share of this market to 11,3% by selling 2 700 Hino trucks in 2021, compared to our penetration of 9,7% last year,” explained Long.
Hino suffered from a shortage of medium, trucks towards the end of 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021 as the previous model was being run out. The company believes its revised model line-up, which answers the requirements of specific customers, will provide a significant increase in its 300-Series sales in 2021. Hino is also looking for growth in both the heavy and extra-heavy market segments with its 500- and 700-series models during 2021.
Ernie Trautmann, the Vice President of Hino SA, said he was immensely proud of the quick and efficient way the dealer network reacted to the changes in business practice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the positive attitude of the dealers resulted in Hino retaining its dominant placing in the quarterly DATATrack competitive customer care truck studies.
“We have not lost any of our dealers and none of them are at risk, which is very satisfying and underlines their effective management strategies,” saysTrautman. “There were some retrenchments, but it was a case of identifying those employees who could rise to the occasion and those who could not when identifying what was needed to ensure the sustainability of these businesses.
“Our big thrust at Hino is these troubled times since March 2020 has been on training, which we were able to switch quickly from on-site to digital. We were able to provide extensive online training from June and extended this to all our meetings. The dealers have all set up dedicated training facilities and we can have meetings with our dealers whenever necessary, which is usually for an hour on a Friday morning.
“Our important driver training programme is also up to speed in line with the necessary COVID-19 protocols in place. The result of this on-site driver training is well proven in terms of fuel saving and reducing wear and tear on the truck, so we are expanding this service to our customer base.
“We are currently putting all Hino head office and dealer staff through a 12-month qwdsa course in line with our move from just being a truck supplier to becoming an organisation that can offer the best logistics solution to meet the requirements of our customers
Looking to the future, Trautmann said Hino was globally focused on Challenge 2025 which targeted improving safety, the environment and efficiency through best-fit trucks, Total Support for all Hino stakeholders and engaging in new activities such as electrification, although the Hino SA Vice President said the ultimate future for trucks was the use hydrogen as an energy source and Hino was already involved in projects involving fuel cell technology
In terms of best-fit trucks in the local market, Trautmann said that Hino was now even more competitive as the new 300-Series was a significant step forward in the medium truck market, while the 500-Series underwent a model change recently and the 700-Series will be refreshed towards the end of 2021.
Masaki Yamamoto, the Chief Engineer for medium-duty trucks at Hino Japan, said revised gear ratios and the use of a six-speed transmission in certain models, instead of a five speeder, will contribute to improving fuel consumption in the new 300-Series, while drivers of those models with a manual gearbox will appreciate the benefits of the Easy Drive hill start system, which prevents rollbacks on inclines until the clutch is engaged. The automatic transmission, which has been extended into more models in the revised range, already has this feature.
The Hino engineer added that another plus feature of the new model was the change made to the chassis to make it easier for truck bodybuilders to mount bodies, while retaining the integrity of the chassis rails.