The 2020 Hino 300 Series two-wheel-drive truck range has been given an update with added safety features and a revised hybrid option for car licence holders needing a light-duty truck.
It is one of a number of light duty trucks that can be driven on a car licence, competing with the likes of the Isuzu N Series and Fuso Canter, and is designed to appeal to tradies who may have outgrown their ute.
New safety equipment includes a pre-collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning – adding to stability control and four-wheel disc brakes already found on the 300.
This makes the 2020 Hino 300 Series only the second truck in its category with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning; the Fuso Canter gained this technology in Australia in mid 2018.
The 300 Series provides 3.5-tonne towing capacity with standard or wide cabs, and a revised, lighter hybrid powertrain, or the option of either a 4.0-litre or 5.0-litre diesel engine.
Much of the Hino 300 Series range can be optioned with a GVM of 4495 kilograms, allowing the models to be driven on a standard car licence.
Producing 110kW/470Nm from a 4.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder and mated to a 35kW electric motor, the hybrid option complies with Euro 6 regulations and provides drivers with a claimed fuel saving of more than 20 per cent according to Hino Australia's, Daniel Petrovski.
"In both independent and Hino local testing of the previous model, the Hino 300 Series Hybrid has proven fuel efficiency improvements of 21 per cent when compared to its diesel counterpart," said Mr Petrovski.
"It only requires diesel fuel, so there are no special refuelling or operating restrictions – [the] operation is basically the same as a conventional diesel truck, only with reduced operating costs."
While Hino currently sells only about 50 Hybrid models annually, it's expecting the electrified powertrain to gain in popularity as more companies and individuals embrace greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
Although no details have been released at this stage, Hino says a fully-electric model could be on sale as soon as August.
For traditional turbo-diesel engines, performance ranges from 110kW/420Nm from the 4-litre four-cylinder to 151kW/600Nm from the 5.1-litre four-cylinder, both of which comply with Euro 5 regulations.
Hybrid models exclusively use a six-speed single-clutch automatic transmission, while other two-wheel-drive models get the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed torque-converter automatic sourced from Aisin.
The Hino 300 Series is the only model in the light truck segment to offer a true torque-converter automatic transmission, with both fifth and sixth gears providing overdrive.
Inside, the updated 300 Series gains steering-wheel controls – another first in this truck class – allowing the driver to quickly control both the 4.2-inch digital display adjacent to the traditional speed and rev gauges, as well as the infotainment system.
The double-DIN 6.5-inch high definition touch-screen infotainment system offers digital radio, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, voice dialling, and the ability to connect the unit to four external cameras.
The infotainment system can also be optioned with a dash cam, tyre-pressure monitoring system, and a truck-specific GPS navigation system, allowing the driver to enter parameters such as height so they can avoid low bridges in unfamiliar areas.
At this stage four-wheel-drive 300 Series models are excluded from the updates, but Hino has said these will be coming.
Pricing for the new 2020 Hino 300 Series starts at $51,064.52 plus on-road costs, or $72,437.23 plus on-road costs for the hybrid.