Hino goes Euro, auto and eco
The recently released 2011 model range from Hino is to include a number of firsts for the Australian market and upgrades all round, throughout the range. Tim Giles investigates.
The introduction of the new ADR 80/03 exhaust emission rules on 1 January 2011 does not require anything like the technological leap forward faced by truck and engine manufacturers several years back with the advent of ADR 80/02. Much of the difficult technology is already on board new trucks, in many cases, it is simply a matter of adjusting them and adding some after-treatment solutions to get the trucks over the line and compliant with the new exhaust emission rules on nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
However, manufacturers like Hino are using the model change to bring in other technologies, which are becoming more popular in the Australian market, across its range. 2011 is going to be an opportunity for the Japanese importer to extend its environmental credentials and introduce automatic and automated transmissions across a broader range of trucks.
The expectations of the Australian truck market have also moved on in the past four years. Features and equipment regarded as mere luxuries several years ago are now becoming included in standard specification sheets. As modern vehicle electronics progresses in leaps and bounds, the number of these sophisticated electronic devices being manufactured increases sharply and the cost comes down.
Hino is introducing new technologies from the smallest to the largest trucks in the range as part of a process to get a group of models more closely aligned to the tastes and preferences of the Australian market. Recent years have seen a pragmatic approach to product specification help Hino marry its traditional technical strengths with a contemporary assessment of customer needs.
At the top end of the range, the Australian market will see a first, outside of Japan, the 700 Series models are to be offered with an overdrive version of the ZF AS Tronic automated manual gearbox. This technology has been with us for some time, appearing in Iveco, DAF and MAN for over five years. However, this is the first time such sophisticated European transmissions have been sold in a Japanese truck outside of Japan.
“The trend towards automatic seems to be growing, I think 20% of the market is looking for automatic,” says Hino Australia President, Steve Lotter. “I believe that between AMT and fully automatic this trend will continue to grow. Our sales performance has been limited by the lack of an AMT for the 700 Series. We believe the AMT version will outsell the manual in the heavy-duty market.”
Available in 6x4 prime movers to begin with, introducing this level of technology allows Hino to leapfrog its Japanese competitors who run automated manual gearboxes in their heavy-duty prime movers but do not quite reach the level of sophistication available from ZF. Integration of the gearbox with the truck’s control systems should enable Hino to get the best out of a gearbox which has scored a lot of goals for ZF over the last 10 years.
Prime Mover took the new driveline for a spin around the Mount Cotton Test Track in Brisbane to get a feel of the capabilities of the new system. First impressions are of a very smooth shifting and flexible gearbox with plenty of retardation from the integral retarder making life easy for the driver. In most situations it is simply a matter of engaging auto and setting off. Manual intervention may be necessary in climbing and descending grades but the control stick is close at hand and simple to use.
The combination of engine and gearbox gives the driver a driveline which sits in the middle ground in terms of AMT performance. It does not match the sophistication and subtlety of European AMT trucks but is way ahead of those using AMTs from North America and Japan. The level of responsiveness displayed by the system is a vast step up for Hino.
It is probably the limitations of the engine’s performance which stop this installation from matching those from the likes of Scania and DAF. The Europeans produce engines with long flat torque curves to give the AMT plenty to play with when choosing which ratio is suitable at any particular point in time. The same curves from the Hino engine contain more peaks and troughs and make life just a little harder for the AMT to hit the right note every time.
Also included in the ZF package is another component which is becoming vital for many heavy-duty trucks wishing to compete in this market, a transmission retarder. The ZF Intarder 2 has proven its mettle for several years in European trucks which lack sufficiently powerful compression engine brakes. Integration with the Hino electronic system allows the Intarder to be part of a brake blending system, similar in style to that offered in European trucks currently.
The gearbox is a 16 speed overdrive and has been fitted in trucks using the current version of the E13C 13 L Hino engine. The new ADR 80/03 engines will be arriving in 2011 but no news of changes to the horsepower ratings available is forthcoming at this time. It would be fair to assume the Hino engineers would be looking to increase output to counteract the advantage gained by Isuzu with the introduction of its 510 hp Giga several years ago.
More innovation will be arriving next year and for 2011 the 700 Series models will be using a combination of EGR and SCR to reach the ADR 80/03 exhaust gas emission regulations. The year should also see the ZF AS Tronic become available in the smaller FS 700 Series models and a 4x2 prime mover will be added to the Hino range, also with the AMT option from ZF. The design of the latest 700 Series cabs also includes a fully compliant front underrun protection system allowing operators to use the truck with 6.5 tonne over the front axle.
A long-awaited addition to the Hino range in 2011 will be the FY 8x4 heavy-duty truck. Initially, the truck will be imported with a non-load sharing front suspension. Although this may limit permissible masses in some cases, Hino believes this model should be able to provide a solution for many potential 8x4 truck customers. Both manual and AMT versions will be available and a load sharing conversion is expected to come on stream over time.
The automation doesn’t stop with the ZF AMT, Hino is also introducing an automatic version of its hybrid model in the 300 Series. The new model, the Hino Hybrid 714 Auto uses a specially tailored transmission with software that has been developed to optimise the use of electrical power in the driveline.
Intelligent use of gear ratio changes can ensure the maximum amount of electricity is generated through regenerative braking when the truck is decelerating. Similarly, during acceleration, gear changes can be used to increase the effectiveness of the electric assist and reduce the fuel use in the diesel engine.
“Having the high level of torque available from the electric motor from about 1000rpm allows for a dramatic change in shift points,” says Alex Stewart, Hino’s product development manager. “During acceleration the up shift points have been revised so they start much earlier to make better use of the hybrid’s torque. They’re quicker on every upshift to give reduced rpm and reduce fuel use.”
When the driver takes their foot off the accelerator the gearbox locks up the torque converter immediately and initiates downshifts in order to maximise regenerative braking.
“The key to the hybrid’s productivity is its ability to use regenerative braking, storing electricity generated for later use in powering the vehicle,” says Alex. “In this automatic torque converter lock-up during deceleration is maintained and the gearbox initiates downshifts sooner to boost the regenerating effect and capture even more kinetic energy to convert into electricity.”
At the unveiling of the Hino range for 2011, the company also took the chance to deliver the 30th hybrid truck to go into the TNT Express Australia fleet. The truck was handed over by Yoshio Shirai, Global President for Hino to TNT Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Bob Black. TNT has found that it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by around 1.5 tonnes of carbon each year for each truck.
“More and more transport companies are setting high KPIs in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions,” says Steve. “A lot of the customers of the transport companies are demanding they follow a green agenda. We are doing a lot of training with companies that buy hybrids for them to really get the proper efficiencies they can from the truck. They can develop competition between the drivers to see them get the best results.”
Globally, Hino has continued to develop its hybrid technology and are now selling hybrid trucks to the Hong Kong market and New Zealand. The number of hybrids sold by the company throughout the world has now reached 9800.
Looking forward to other models from Hino in 2011, there will be three engine variations in 300 Series models from Hino in 2011. The engines all use common rail fuel injection, variable nozzle turbo-charging and cooled EGR. All engines will also be fitted with a DPR after-treatment device in the exhaust stream to bring emissions down to legally permissible levels.
In the standard cab versions, 300 Series models will use the current five-speed gearbox while the wide cab will now be standardised with a six speed manual box. The six speed automatic gearbox will also be an option available in most models in the range. Hino has now decided to include as standard across the range from light-duty through to heavy-duty, remote controlled and heated wing mirrors.
As of now, the interior of the 500 Series medium duty models has been changed and updated with a new colour. Driver’s SRS air bag will now be standard across the 500 Series. The narrower cabbed models in the 500 Series will also be getting an all-new engine platform to be unveiled next year. Cab strength has also been beefed up and all cabs for 500 Series models now pass the ECE 29 cab strength test. Hino is also introducing a new 4 metre long dump body into the its 500 Series ready built range. For the 500 Series the EGR solution will be enough to get it over the emissions line.
These new models are all to come over the next six months but the ZF AS Tronic gearbox in the SS models is available now with Hino selling the current model with the new driveline until the emission rules come into effect on 1 January next year. The company clearly realises the need for the market to see its new offering as soon as possible.
“We see the ZS AF Tronic as saving fuel due to gear changing error being minimised,” says Alex. “We see clutch replacement being reduced due to more correct gear changing, improving vehicle availability. We can see the driveline service life being extended because there will be no over speeding and incorrect shifting. It should also help, from a driver’s point of view, to reduce accidents as they can concentrate more on the road and less on their gearshifts.
“The Intarder will reduce workshop time by reducing brake wear and reducing costs. The gearbox is fully integrated into the vehicle’s electronic control systems including the brakes and the driveline. This allows for smooth communication between engine and braking systems to enable a function like brake blending. This release is a long awaited introduction for AMT which allows those customers who insist on AMT to look at our products.”