The last few months have proven how vital the trucking and transport industry is to the region. This is particularly true in the UAE where truck operators have formed a lifeline in a country that relies on the transport of essential products and services by road. As the country emerges from its lockdown, its recovery and growth will only be achieved by businesses being able to depend on a logistics chain powered by a fleet of reliable and safe trucks.

Enter the new medium-duty Hino 500 FD1024, the latest edition in a long-line of celebrated vehicles to roll-out of the much-vaunted Koga Plant – the state-of-the art ‘mother plant’ of the Toyota-owned commercial vehicles manufacturer’s global production effort.

The UAE market was once dominated by heavy vehicles, particularly during the peak years of construction more than a decade ago, Al-Futtaim Motor’s (AFM) general manager of commercial vehicles, Hino and Toyota Material Handling, Ramez Hamdan, tells T&FME that the new truck arrives at a time where the market is rapidly changing.

“The construction segment is significantly down compared with previous years,” begins Hamdan. “While we are seeing fewer heavy vehicles being sold, we are witnessing higher demand for vehicles needed by sectors such as logistics, FMCG and energy. This is leading to an increase in MCV (medium commercial vehicles) and LCV (light commercial vehicles) solutions.”

Experts are predicting that the UAE will be among the countries that bounces back relatively quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic comes under control. with the growth of e-commerce expected to accelerate as business and consumer habits evolve. Hamdan says that trend should drive further demand for MCV trucks like the HINO 500 FD1024.

“Early into the COVID-19 situation, we witnessed a major increase in the e-commerce sector. That requires creating more and deeper logistics chains, and has led to an increase in MCV and LCV fleet for many companies in the UAE. These vehicles are ideal for distribution and can easily operate on highways and into cities.”

To switch between those two very different environments, the new truck features a high-performance Euro 4 engine and has a proven higher service interval of 20,000 km – using Hino Engine Oil – which Hamdan says makes the Hino 500 more eco-friendly than ever.

Long gone are the bare-bones designs of the past too. Reflecting the needs of the sectors it has been built to serve, fleets will be purchasing a truck with an exterior and interior designed with driver comfort and visibility in mind. It also features side-door impact beams, improved mirrors to for a bigger field of vision, front and rear under-run protection, ABS (anti-lock braking system) and the Emergency Guard Impact Safety (EGIS) cabin.

The Hino 500 FD1024 has a GVW of 10.4 Ton and a payload capacity of 7.0 Ton. This helps the truck to be the complete all-rounder Hino was aiming for, and cope with a wide range of applications such as tipper trucks, curtain siders, reefer trucks as well as general cargo and cement mixers. Hamdan says that this versatility means that AFM can approach a broad cross-section of the market. He produces a long list of potential fleets that could benefit from the new truck.

“Our target sectors are logistics, FMCG, contracting, waste management and transport companies which are operating with applications like cargo bodies, chillers, cranes, refuse compactors and recovery platforms,” he says. “One of the first customers to own the new Hino 500 FD1024 was Ajman Police. They needed an aerial platform for rescue operation on high levels floor and light pole maintenance.”

AFM is determined to help customer’s meet their requirements. Any new owner, he says, will be plugged into AFM’s well-honed customer journey from initial sale conversations, delivery to aftersales support and body building.

“We are the largest distributor of automobiles and automotive products in the UAE with fully computerised showrooms and a highly professional sales advisor team across all the emirates. We provide the right model solution, with proper PDI (pre-delivery inspections) and sanitisation, as well as support of delivery to the customer’s site for new units.

“We also operate fully equipped service workshops and parts facilities in every emirate. It is an aggressive customer satisfaction programme, designed to enhance service levels right across the company, from showroom to workshop. We always continue to foster customer relationships,” he affirms.

Peak transportation
Last year’s debut of the robust, flexible and light 300 series of trucks opened up the F&B and fuel delivery market for AFM. It is clear that the heavier 500 is igniting Hamdan’s ambition to now help re-shape the medium segment of the UAE commercial vehicles market.

“With the new Hino 500 FD1024, we are aiming to provide customers with optimal performance and peak transportation efficiency all the time, everywhere!” he enthuses.

“The roll-out includes changes to not just the aesthetic but also the drivetrain. There is a painstaking attention to detail with the truck that makes it easy to operate and can, in turn, boost the motivation and morale of drivers. This will undoubtedly contribute to the growth of a customer’s business.”

Medium duty trucks have traditionally struggled to find a role in the UAE market with many operators preferring to run the heavy vehicles they have relied on for years. But with margins on balance sheets getting ever more tighter, trucks like the Hino 500 are becoming much more attractive as the market moves away from being dominated by the construction sector.

“This a transportation solution that offers a powerful performance with a Euro4 engine that is turbo charged with its high horsepower of 245 PS (@2500 rpm) and high torque of 726 Nm (@1500 rpm) but it also has lower diesel consumption in addition to numerous safety features. It’s not only got a well-crafted exterior and interior designed for driver comfort and visibility, but also excels in hot and cold climates, at high altitudes, low altitudes – and almost everything in between – to thrive in almost in any environment imaginable.”

Of course, it is the all-important engine which will be relied upon to guarantee this performance. Hino says the six-cylinder J08E delivers increased output, greater cooling, improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Through development it has created a refined package which it claims results in resulting in greater efficiencies.

“The new engine has been elaborately engineered for outstanding environmental performance coupled with the ability to generate higher power and torque,” explains Hamdan. “It also features the new transmission LX06 (6+1 speed) in compliance with the high torque and is equipped with power shifting option.”

Safer transport
Beyond the engine and driveline changes, it is the safety features that arguably elevate the Hino 500 FD1024 over previous models. Stepping into the cab, it offers excellent downward visibility for the driver, with 45o of visibility (20o in an upward direction and 25o in a downward direction).

“So, for example, the driver can see the head of a small child (1m high) at a distance of 1.6m,” Hamdan tells T&FME.

The cab also meets Hino’s stringent Emergency Guard Impact Safety (EGIS) compliance and is rigidly constructed with a wealth of safety devices such as a SRS airbag (driver), a seat-belt with pretensioner for driver protection, a collapsible steering column, steel plating to provide protection from door impacts, as well as anti-collision steel beams threaded into the structure.

Hamdan also notes that the truck has front under run protection to protect smaller vehicles from being run over by the truck.

“And the truck’s steering system allows driver to steer vehicle after accident in case of front collision,” he adds. “Tubeless tyres also further benefit the customer, and the New FD1024 comes with tubeless tyres (Size 235/75 R 17.5) to make driving easy and safe.”
Hamdan is in no doubt that safety of drivers is a major concern for AFM in ensuring that delivers on the promises it makes to its customers.

“For instance, we relentlessly pursue safe braking to protect customer’s cargo, their business and put smiles on the faces of their drivers,” Hamdan says. “This truck has state-of-the-art brake technology that includes brake chambers coupled with ABS to help prevent serious accidents.

“This comes as standard to enhance safety and bring peace of mind. ABS contributes by enhancing stable and consistent braking without the wheels locking up when the brakes are applied; consistently maintaining stable controllability and helping the driver to avoid accidents.”

As most truck owners know, the brake system is an important element as it helps drivers to stay in control on the road when they are carrying a load; allowing them to slow down, make turns safely and stop when necessary. The Hino 500 FD1024 uses an air-over-hydraulic brake system, which Hamdan notes combines the best benefits of hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

“When the brake pedal is depressed, this controls the amount of air pressure. Hydraulic pressure is then used to apply the brakes,” he explains.

Looking ahead
After the disruption of the first half of 2020, AFM is expecting deamand to recover by Q3 and Q4 2020. Looking ahead, Hamdan says the market will stablise and the business is optimistic that there will be further growth by the first quarter of next year. He stresses that the company understands that it needs to continue to support customers in the months ahead to help them to also recover lost ground and grow.

“During this period, we understand that our customers need the maximum support in terms of finance solutions, also in terms of after-sales support by providing mobile workshop to do the service at the customer’s site, and online training for their drivers are being offered. Finance solutions are available from AFM Hino through our partner banks at special rates and will support them through service contracts, insurance, body fabrication, and more.”

Ultimately, Hamdan believes fleets will see a rapid return on their investment through the Hino 500 FD 1024.

“Fleets can expect to see a return on their investment within the first month of starting operation, in terms of fuel efficiency, less maintenance and durability and the minimising of breakdowns,” he concludes.