A push in the right direction
Designed and engineered in Australia the 6x2 version of the Hino 500 GH is all about practicality and flexibility.
Not every truck carries the same loads from the same pickup locations and always goes to the same delivery points. City or country distribution can present a daily dilemma for allocators and drivers who may be running light in one direction and heavy in the other. No one wants to operate overweight yet every operator needs to maximise productivity. In many cases the answer is a rigid truck in the 6x2 configuration where the ‘extra’ rear axle is only required for the heavier loads and is pneumatically lifted from the road surface to save fuel and tyre costs when the load being carried is legal for a 4x2.
The easiest answer is to fit a tag axle behind the drive axle yet a much better result can be achieved with the additional axle being located in front of the drive axle. Hence the ‘pusher’ rather than ‘lazy’ colloquial description for this particular set up. One main advantage of the pusher combination is the ability to negotiate spoon drains or driveways with much less chance of losing traction when a drive wheel is ‘hung up’ or suspended above the road surface. The fundamental pusher design reduces the incidence of such occurrences and the Hino is equipped with two pieces of mechanical componentry that further limit the effect of these situations with the first being a diff lock that is operated by a dash mounted switch.
Another method that requires no input from the driver is the Hino’s anti-slip regulator (ASR), which is integrated with the vehicle stability control system (VSC) and anti-lock braking system (ABS). Should one drive wheel be turning faster than the other, such as when suspended over a spoon drain, the ASR will apply braking pressure to the spinning wheel thereby delivering more drive through the differential to the other side, which has more traction. Finally, there is also the option of dropping some air pressure from the suspension to increase the weight on the drive wheels.
The Hino VSC system is standard on the 500 wide cab series and will also be fitted to the new 500 series standard width cabs when they arrive here later this year. In conjunction with the other systems the VSC feature also helps to prevent the truck from uncontrolled skidding by monitoring wheel speed, steering angle, yaw rate, lateral G-forces and braking. The VSC’s virtually instant corrective functions enhance the truck’s stability on surfaces with poor traction by autonomously reducing engine power and applying the brakes on individual wheels to counter the skid.
Starting with a 6,350mm XXL long wheelbase GH1832 cab chassis, Hino have added the lazy axle and Hendrickson airbag suspension along with a Genuine Truck Bodies curtainsider body. Equipped with a double overdrive six speed Allison transmission this test model has its nine-litre engine rated at 320hp at 1,800rpm. The maximum 1,275Nm of torque is available from 1,100rpm and the transmission’s torque convertor makes the most out of the engine’s generous grunt. The optional nine-speed manual transmission model GH 1835 has the engine rated at a slightly higher 350hp and 1,422 Nm of torque. We’ve driven examples of both and the choice between manual and automatic is a tough one. The nine-speed is very easy to use. This is due in part to its cable connection between the shifter and the gearbox; and the Allison is even easier and has a significant level of sophistication that runs to increasing the effect of the engine brake by downshifting as soon as possible on downhill roads without over-revving the engine in order to maximise the effect of compression retardation.
The test vehicle is loaded to a gross of just over 18 tonnes and the result is that the engine and transmission combination is well within its capabilities and is able to handle any situation presented to it including the steep long pulls on the Princes Highway between Sydney and Wollongong. Definitely noticeable are the smoothness of the shifts of the transmission and the low down torque of the engine, which has the Allison upshifting early to maintain acceleration and maximise fuel efficiency.
The uninterrupted drive that the Allison provides contributes to the seamless delivery of power to the drive wheels and at no point during our test drive does the transmission seem confused as to what ratio it should be selecting.
The operation of the lazy axle is set up to be automatic once the weight sensors detect more than six tonnes mass being borne by the drive axle and the lazy axle’s airbags are inflated and the wheels descend to make contact with the road. The six tonne activation point is in line with the axle load mass regulations, but the anomaly is that a 4x2 without a lifting axle can legally go to nine tonnes on its rear axle. Nevertheless, placing another four wheels on the ground improves stability and weight distribution and adds another set of brakes.
During previous driving experiences in the Hino 500 wide cab, the size and layout of the interior have impressed and a few hours in this latest combination confirm that Hino have put as much engineering thought into the driver’s work space as they have in the rest of the mechanicals. Access is via a set of tiered steps that are offset outwards from the top and allow the driver to see the next step down which is a clever piece of safety design.
The driver’s air-suspended ISRI seat includes an integral seat belt. Bluetooth connection to the multi-media system is super simple and for the new model the media unit itself has been upgraded with larger knobs to make adjustments easier and it provides a clear image and good audio for the standard reversing camera and rear microphone. The transmission is controlled by a touchpad that also has a digital display to indicate which ratio is currently engaged. A button can be used to select power mode, which increases the shift points by around 500rpm. Although we have a play with alternating between ‘power’ and ‘economy’ modes during this test at this gross weight we can out-accelerate most traffic in ‘eco’ and the Hino eats up hills easily even when the transmission is left to its own devices.
In this particular Hino a suite of WABCO electronic safety systems are being trialled. The WABCO TailGuard system uses sensors attached to the rear of the truck to detect objects behind the reversing vehicle and sounds an alarm if the truck gets too close. It will autonomously apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t react. The gap is adjustable and the system works independently of the reversing camera. The TailGuard system will also pulse the brakes if the driver exceeds 15 km/h while reversing. The WABCO OneLane system is a lane departure warning similar in function to what can be found in high-end European prime movers. At this point in time Hino are still trialling the WABCO systems with a view to eventually making them available on production models.
The Hino 500 Series wide cab range has found quick and strong acceptance for a variety of tasks in the Australian market and the locally developed 6x2 pusher adds another dimension to the line-up.