Regarded as the the best medium duty truck Hino has released onto the Australian market, the 500 Series Standard Cab 'smart truck' goes for a run around Canberra and beyond
With six month’s sales of Hino’s new 500 Series Standard Cab under its belt, signs are ever so slight of a narrowing of the gap between Hino Trucks and perennial market leader Isuzu in the Australian medium duty truck range. Of course Hino’s 500 Series Wide Cab, released a couple of years ago, may also be a factor in this modest but significant sales boost in that segment. And it’s most likely at the expense of Isuzu.
Hino has strategically slowly but surely accelerated the exposure of its new 500 Series Standard Cab since its November 2018 media launch in Tokyo. Drive days a few months around Canberra followed where the vehicles were put to the test around the national capital, Queanbeyan and the rolling hills towards Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
First off was the Sutton Road Training Centre in the Canberra suburb of Majura where nine Hino 500 Series Standard Cab medium duty trucks were lined up and ready to hit the road.
Before that, however, came a few demonstrations of the Standard Cab’s capabilities, although one was merely to show-off the Hino’s manoeuvrability. A course dotted with witches’ hats was set up, not only to test out driver skill but to also to illustrate the Hino 500’s capability in tight turning situations.
Top prize for the adrenalin rush came from the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) exercise, although it was a representative from Hino behind the wheel, with spectators safely ensconced in either the passenger seat, or in the back seat of the crew cab.
The AEB is part of Hino’s standard safety package; its primary aim is to avoid rear-end collisions at moderate speeds. In the first instance it warns the driver of an impending collision. Then, if the driver takes no action, the truck will apply the brakes, bringing it to a complete halt.
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), along with the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), was another impressive attribute of the new Hino 500 Series Standard Cab. The Suttons Centre had a skid pan available, and we were able to determine the differences between “switch on, switch off”. With truck rollovers seemingly becoming a common occurrence, this is an important feature of the new Hino.
A perfect opportunity to test the LDWS occurred during the drive when we came upon a couple of lycra-clad cyclists riding two abreast. These two had no intention of moving into single file so, rather than spend time following at their leisurely pace, we were forced to overtake on the narrow, winding road. Restraint came into play when it was decided against opting for the horn. Of course LDWS is cancelled out once you put the indicators on, so we decided to give it a workout in a safer situation later on that day.
Interestingly, of the nine trucks on offer, only one had a manual transmission. This reflects the ratio of customer demand for the Allison auto in Hino’s medium duty line-up and the way of the future for savvy fleet buyers.
It was time to head for the hills. All trucks were loaded up to around 75 per cent of capacity, so traversing the hilly terrain south of Canberra gave the four-cylinder A05 engine plenty of opportunity to show its credentials. The engine proved to be no slouch, even though much of the route was quite undulating and steep, and will not disappoint prospective buyers.
One addition item that should be mentioned however, is the addition of the new, smart multimedia system, with Hino Traq telematics.
According to Daniel Petrovski, Hino Australia’s manager product strategy, the multimedia system provides “real-time tracking and vehicle operational information such as operating time, fuel usage, driver safety and whole-of-fleet monitoring, which is accessible through the Hino Traq on-line portal”.
“It’s the gateway to the connected world that I’ve certainly been dreaming about asking these guys for over 10 years,” Petrovski says.
The multimedia’s GPS system came in handy during the drive, as did the reversing camera at the end of the day. A microphone situated at the back of the truck was heard loud and clear when instructions were issued during the tight reversing process.
If that’s not enough, the multimedia system can also operate a drone direct from the screen. But that may take a little patience.
There’s no doubting the quality of these new Hino 500 Series Standard Cab trucks, but whether old-school drivers will embrace the new technology, notably the safety package (which is standard across all vehicles) remains to be seen.
Photography: Cam Inniss | Video: Greg Bush & Hino Trucks Australia