Whether it’s for environmental, economic or fashionable reasons, the big push is on for electric commercial vehicles in Australia. But while Hino has one eye on an electric future, it’s banking on its hybrid model to continue to provide fuel and maintenance savings and emissions reductions.
A drive between Sydney’s Sutherland Shire and Wollongong is a round trip of around 130 kilometres or so. Certainly not a run that can provide much of an opportunity to differentiate between the performances of Hino’s 300 diesel and hybrid models. Especially when part of that run was through the picturesque Royal National Park where the only stoppages were for the occasional roadworks.
However, with the Hino 300 Trade Ace diesel following behind, by day’s end the Hino hybrid’s fuel figures made for impressive reading. The diesel had consumed 21.2 litres of diesel, while the 616 hybrid was down to 16.9 litres during the half-day run.
Daniel Petrovski, Hino Australia’s department manager – product strategy, says double that and it’s a fuel saving of $20 per day. He points out further savings over a month, year and the life of the truck. But more on that later.
The 300 Series Hino Hybrid has been operating in Australia for the past 15 years. It’s been an evolving process with the current model now boasting Euro 6 exhaust emissions standards. And, of course, using less fuel equates to less emissions over the same distance.
“Rather than look at fuel reduction, you can improve this outcome by getting more kilometres per litre of diesel. You’ve still got to travel that distance,” Petrovski says.
“So we’re looking at about 20 per cent savings/reduction in fuel use, which also means an emissions cut. Some customers will get only 9 per cent if they operate between Sydney and Orange.
“Wollongong, that’s not a big hybrid operation but we thought, ‘okay, it’s a nice drive and you’ll get a good feel for the hybrid technology’.”
Petrovski also points out that, a run from Sydney’s south to Wollongong would be unsuitable for an electric truck, unless the driver is prepared to stop and charge up along the way. It’s just one fact, along with a few others, that’s behind Hino’s hybrid push to customers as it presents the pros and cons of EV ownership.
“Battery EVs, you’ve got to plug into the grid,” Petrovski says. “People say, ‘we’ll use solar on our battery EVs’. But how you are you charging those battery EVs? Are you using them at night? You can charge them all day using solar, but if you’re using them during the day you can’t charge up with solar during the night.
“So then they have to have a bigger battery bank, then that’s more rare earth materials.
“So the majority of people are going to be off the grid, having some offset, and that’s 0.656 kilograms of CO2,” Petrovski adds.
“If you think about the fact that one litre of diesel has 10kW hours of energy, that’s only 1kW.
“So to get 10kW hours which would be equal to 1 litre of diesel, we then times that CO2, 0.656kg, by 10 and that’s 6.56 kg of CO2. That’s 1 litre of diesel putting out 2.68kg of CO2.
“So it’s three times more greenhouse gas than a diesel vehicle.”
Petrovski points out that, on a global scale, Australia is second only to India in terms of CO2 output per kWh. With China having a better, cleaner CO2 grid than Australia, he says we need to be down where the US and Germany are before EVs really become a viable option for us.
“We need to halve the CO2 output,” he says.
“People who are buying battery electric vehicles, they don’t want to know about this because they’re doing it from a point of view of, they want to feel good about what they’re doing. They want to be seen to have the virtue signalling about how great they’re spending all this money on an electric vehicle.
“Well, actually you won’t be good until 2035, so are you going to keep that vehicle until 2050? And run it for 30 years?
“No, these guys aren’t, they’re going to buy an electric vehicle and keep it for three years on a lease and then move it out,” Petrovski says.
“The Brisbane Truck Show will be the same. People will be there with battery EVs; no-one wants to miss out.”
There’s also practical and vocational decisions to be made over hybrid versus battery electric. He says applications that involve off-road exploring or remote recoveries, mining and exploration would be out of an EV’s capabilities.
“Some of these applications might be able to use hydrogen, but they won’t be able to do remote filling with hydrogen. They’ll get a huge range but a lot of those applications you need to fill remotely.
“Fire trucks, they’re an emergency service. Can you imagine a battery EV in 2019 when we had the fires like south-east Australia? The place was on fire for three months. They had no electricity.”
The fire season took time out for the 2022-2023 summer so it was clear skies all the way for the drive south to Wollongong. Coupled to an automated manual transmission, the Hino N04C-WR engine with 470Nm of torque cruised along nicely. From a standing start, or after stopping at traffic lights, the electric motor did deliver a nice boost of torque, despite a significant load in the back.
“The electric motor will start to turn the transmission before the clutch is even engaged,” Petrovski explains. “So you don’t get as much clutch wear because that electric motor is starting to move the vehicle forward, then the clutch engages, less friction and takes off.
“But while that electric motor is doing its bit, it’s up to 1200rpm from clutch engagement, which is like 550-600rpm on idle.”
One interesting aspect around the AMT is its inclination to upshift as it tends to move into its most efficient range. Depending on road conditions, driver interaction may be required. It’s a simple matter of switching to sequential mode and keeping it in the gear selected. Other than that, and one of the hybrid’s selling points, is simply selecting ‘D’ for dummy and pressing the accelerator.
As expected, the diesel cuts out after a couple of seconds stopped at lights – except for a brief period when the hybrid was in a regeneration phase. It was this section of the drive that mostly contributed to the fuel usage difference.
The hybrid returned with figures of 8.57km per litre of fuel, compared to the diesel’s 6.56. It ended up with a five litre difference, with the diesel using 22 litres and the hybrid 17 litres.
Hino generally quotes a 20 per cent saving in fuel with a hybrid compared to a straight diesel, taking a conservative approach with estimates. However, with the modest Sutherland-Wollongong run multiplied to 69,000km per annum, fuel savings start to add up, especially when the diesel is anticipated to use 11,000 litres per year compared to the hybrid’s 8,500. Petrovski says it equates to a saving of $398 each month on fuel.
That doesn’t take into account service, maintenance and the total cost of ownership. While the hybrid is around $16,000 more expensive than the diesel, Petrovski says vehicle buyers will get that difference back in just three years. His figures show a diesel costing $2028 to run each month, while a hybrid’s costs are $1766. That includes lower maintenance costs and lower brake change intervals, not to mention the half tonne of CO2 savings each month.
Petrovski believes most customers opt for a lease arrangement, while buyers will keep the truck for between seven to 10 years.
With around 700 Hino hybrids currently on the road in Australia, and another 300 on order, Petrovski says the hybrid has hit a sweet spot for the manufacturer and will be a massive advantage over the next five to 10 years, even more so as there is little or no competition in the hybrid market.
“We’ve been trying to give the customers what they want, a vehicle that cuts their emissions and cuts their operating costs.
“We can offer cost reduction, environmental improvements and operational benefits for fleets,” Petrovski says. “This is our blue sky, blue ocean area. It really is a unique time for us.”
See the Hino Hybrid on Stand 61 at the Brisbane Truck Show, running from May 18 to 21.