11 Jun 2023

Leon Theron, Senior Vice President – Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) introduced Anton Falck, the recently appointed Vice President of Hino South Africa, at a Hino media function in Johannesburg on June 13 to mark the return of Hino to the extra-heavy segment of the local truck market.

This being his first move into the world of trucking, Falck takes over from Ernie Trautmann, who has retired. Anton was originally a student of Consumer Behaviour and Marketing, but since joining Toyota SA Motors in 1987, he has done duty in several divisions of the company. His previous experience ranges from area management, marketing communications and vehicle sales, to dealer representation, overseeing Automark, TSAM’s used vehicle franchise and more recently running the Toyota Academy of Learning.

“I am honoured to have been granted this rare opportunity to head up, what we believe to be an important truck brand in South Africa and to ensure that Hino makes a valuable contribution to the local economy,” said Falck.

“We are pleased to have successfully launched the highly anticipated new Hino 700 last month. This vehicle sets a new standard for its class in the industry, boasting exceptional performance and outstanding safety features at a highly competitive price. The product has been well received and the initial feedback from both our dealer network and customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We are aggressively promoting the Hino 700 and anticipate that over the next few years, the Hino 700 will help us establish a strong presence in the extra-heavy segment, where we have not played a significant role previously,” commented Falck.

The Hino SA Vice President said the company’s initial commercial market forecast for 2023 was around 31 500 units. However, after five months of sales, it has become evident that the market is larger than anticipated, with an impressive growth rate of 11.6% over 2022. Taking this into account, Hino SA expects the total commercial vehicle market to range between 33 500 and 35 000 units in 2023.

“The exact figure will depend on market and consumer response to the increased interest rates, the declining exchange rate, and various other challenges we are currently facing as South Africans. Despite the challenges, the deteriorating state of other forms of transportation, such as the railways, suggests that demand for trucks will be strong for the next few years,” added Falck.

“The most significant growth has been observed in the EHCV (Extra Heavy Commercial Vehicle) segment, with a staggering 21.8% increase compared to 2022. This indicates a substantial demand for large-scale transportation of goods in South Africa. On the other hand, the MCV (Medium Commercial Vehicle) and HCV (Heavy Commercial Vehicle) segments have remained relatively stable.”

“Hino sales have also performed satisfactory year-to-date, with a growth rate of 5.8% compared to 2022. That is of course behind the market growth, but mainly due to us having had a product gap in the extra- heavy segment. We already have a strong base with our 200, 300 and 500 series trucks and now have the 700 range to provide more volume,” commented Falck.

Hino Motors, Toyota, Mitsubishi Fuso, and Daimler recently signed a memorandum of understanding to engage in a future collaboration on equal terms, with Toyota and Daimler as shareholders. The objective between the four parties is to accelerate product development in respect of CASE, which stands for Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric trucks. The deal is set for completion by the end of 2024 and, while the local Hino distributor voiced enthusiasm for the expected future opportunities to flow from the announced collaboration, no further details are available at this time.

Hino SA is also involved with another exciting development and that is pilot, on-the-road testing of Hino 300 diesel-electric hybrid truck to assess its suitability and viability for the local market.

“The Toyota 300 Hybrid is already highly successful in Japan and Australia in terms of significantly reducing fuel consumption and hence, emissions, for 4-ton haulers. Should the pilot be successful, we plan to introduce the 300 Hybrid into SA.”

Falck explained that Hino trucks, which have been on South African roads for more than 50 years, have not only proved popular in terms of sales volumes, but the dealer network of 65 dealers – 21 exclusive truck dealers and 44 dual car and truck outlets – continues to provide outstanding customer satisfaction. Hino was once again No. 1 overall in the 2023 Quarter 1 DataTrack survey, as well as being No. 1 in Sales and Service.

The dealers are also more than satisfied with their relationship with Hino SA itself, as measured in the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI). Hino have been performing admirably and in 2022 once again achieved the highest level of Dealer satisfaction of all Truck brands, receiving a Platinum award (as did Toyota and Lexus).

“We are fully aware of the need for factory-backed Service and Maintenance Plans at competitive rates and these, together with extended warranties, can be tailor-made by our dealers to suit a customer’s’ requirements.”

“In conclusion, the current market trends and our successes indicate a promising future for Hino in South Africa. We are confident that our reliable trucks and competitive pricing, coupled with our strong dealer network and aftersales support efforts, will position us favourably in the southern African commercial vehicle market going forward,” concluded Falck.