An exclusive preview of the Hino 500 in Japan has offered an occasion to observe the key differences between the new model and its predecessor.
What has changed for the better?
It’s been a monumental 15 years in the making for Hino’s all-new 500 Series Standard Cab medium-duty truck.
In that time Hino engineers have had ample opportunity to revamp and revise every aspect of the vehicle from the tyres to the tip of the antenna.
As such, the truck has been packed to the gunnels with just about every active and passive safety feature known to mankind, prompting Hino to claim the 500 Series Standard Cab boasts the most comprehensive active safety package ever offered by a Japanese manufacturer in the Australian medium-duty truck market.
This is big news in the global truck world as it exemplifies just how determined the Japanese manufacturers are to go toe-to-toe with the European makers in terms of technological and safety developments.
This is an area the Japanese have largely lagged behind their Continental counterparts in years gone by.
Not anymore, judging by the standard suite of safety kit on Hino’s new 500 Series, which is nothing short of all-encompassing. Indeed, many mainstream passenger cars don’t have this level of standard safety equipment.
Headlining the substantial leap forward is the Pre-Collision System (PCS) which includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection (PD) and Safety Eye (SE). Added to these are Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) which incorporates Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Traction Control (TC).
The A05 engine has three power ratings depending on the model.
FC 1124 and FD 1124 models have the A05-TE delivering 240hp (177kW) at 2300rpm and 794Nm of torque at 1400rpm; the A05-TD in the FE1424 Crew variants with the same 240hp is accompanied by a higher torque rating of 833Nm at 1400rpm; and the A05-TC endows the FD 1126 and FE 1426 with 260hp (191kW) at 2300rpm and a barnstorming 882Nm at 1400rpm.
A noteworthy feature is the standard fitment of a Jacobs engine brake or ‘Jake Brake’ across the range, providing first-class engine braking capability.
According to Hino this is another first for a Japanese medium-duty truck under 15 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM).
The Jake Brake is supplemented by a traditional exhaust brake and descent speed control.
And the firsts keep coming with the 500 Series claimed to set a new benchmark in emissions reduction for medium-duty Japanese trucks by complying with Japan’s stringent post Post New Long Term regulation that is equivalent to the Euro 6 standard not due to be implemented in Australia for a number of years.
“Fundamental to achieving the emissions reductions is the exhaust gas after-treatment containing both Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and Diesel Particulate Reduction (DPR) systems,” said Daniel Petrovski, Hino Australia’s Manager of Product Strategy.
“These two proven emissions reduction solutions have been fitted to thousands of Hino trucks sold in Australia since 2011.”
Meeting emissions regulations ahead of time is just one facet of Hino’s overarching commitment to environmental care, Daniel continues.
“We have also produced a truck made of materials that will allow at least 95 per cent (by weight) to be recycled at the end of its life,” he said.
“Furthermore, at our Koga (Japan) plant where the 500 Series is produced, we have adopted many environmental initiatives including rainwater harvesting, water recycling and the use of geothermal ventilation for climate control within the factory.”
Moving on to transmissions, the quintessential Allison 2500 six-speed automatic is now available across the 500 Series Standard Cab range, cementing its position as the preferred transmission choice for many operators.
Manual transmissions continue to be available with a six-speed unit fitted as standard to the FC and FD models, while the FE now comes with a seven-speed pudding stirrer, giving it one more cog than its rivals.
FD and FE customers also have the option of a Hino automated manual transmission (AMT) in six- and seven-speed variants respectively.
The AMT is something of a ‘hybrid’ transmission, combining the best features of both manual and torque converter automatics. It is essentially a manual box with computer-controlled or robotised actuators facilitating clutch and gear shifting functions.
In Japan last November Prime Mover was given the opportunity to drive a mix of moderately loaded Aussie and Japanese-spec units to provide us with an initial feel for the product.
The drive program followed on from the demonstration of Hino’s autonomous emergency braking system that’s standard on the new 500 Series models.
This involved the journalists riding in a truck driven by a Hino employee on the test track.
A life-size simulation of a small car was positioned on the track and the truck driver, maintaining a steady 50km/h, drove straight towards it without backing off on the accelerator.
About 40 metres from a potential impact the warning lights flashed and an alarm sounded.
Then at the 20 metre mark the brakes automatically applied and the truck was brought to a swift stop about five metres from the stationary car.
And the driver’s foot hadn’t so much as touched the brake pedal.
It was an incredibly impressive display, proving the immeasurable value of a safety system with the potential to prevent many injuries and fatalities in the future.
After lunch it was our turn to get behind the wheels of four different versions of the new 500 Series Standard Cab featuring each of the three transmission options, namely manual, automated manual and Allison automatic.
Our first stint was in an automated manual (AMT) unit which immediately impressed with its smooth, quick up-shifts and intuitive, progressive downshifts when decelerating.
Despite being on a flat track, the brake-saving potential of the combined retardation from the exhaust and Jake brake was clearly evident.
Also impressive were the comfort and support provided by the well contoured Isri suspension seat, in addition to the spacious cab ambience and hi-tech instrument panel.
In particular, the liquid crystal display (LCD) featuring green shading when driving fuel efficiently which morphs into blue when accelerating makes it easy for the operator to strive for an economical driving style.
Next up was the Allison automatic equipped version which also impressed with crisp, quick shifts providing outstanding acceleration for a medium-duty truck.
Also helping here was the prodigious torque output with which the new A05 engine range has been endowed.
As with its AMT sibling, the auto also progressively downshifts on deceleration to maximise the engine braking potential.
Finally we jumped into the manual shift version which felt decidedly ‘old school’ compared to the self-shifters.
The gear stick had a rubbery and somewhat imprecise action which didn’t make for an inspiring drive. With sales of manual trucks continuing to dwindle, it’s fitting that the majority of development and fine-tuning efforts have gone into the auto and AMT iterations.
We look forward to providing further insights into the new range following the upcoming local launch that will involve a far more comprehensive drive program on home soil.
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