"Why Use Hybrids as Commercial Vehicles?"
Since manufacturing and marketing a bus equipped with the world's first hybrid system in 1991, I believe that Hino Motors has continually led the industry as one of the pioneers in the field. The Company's fiscal 2011 CSR report focused on the advantages of hybrid systems in a special highlight section outlining the acquisition and development of Hino Motors' technological expertise. Moving forward, Hino Motors intends to continue building on its expertise to lead the automobile industry in environmental technologies.
What can Hino Motors-one of leading manufacturers of commercial vehicles-do for customers with its hybrid commercial vehicles? According to company President Yoshio Shirai, "The mission of Hino Motors is to bring joy to a greater number of people by providing trucks and buses which are suitable to each market in the world and which are environmentally friendly. "The president offered his views in a magazine interview with Hiroko Kiba, a television presenter and specially assigned professor at Department of Education，Chiba University with a strong interest in energy- and environment-related issues.
The feature presents fuel efficiency data for Hino Dutro Hybrid trucks, derived from driving tests that the Company conducted with customers. The president also discusses how adopting hybrid commercial vehicles can help customers enhance their environmental image and improve operations.
Since their launch in July 2011, Hino Dutro Hybrid trucks have won acclaim for high fuel efficiency achieved through the Company's new hybrid system. According to Japanese government fuel efficiency standards for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of over 2.5 tons*, the system achieves fuel usage of up to 12.2 kilometers per liter.
Hino Motors solicits direct feedback from Hino Dutro Hybrid truck customers. The Company strives to reflect their suggestions in the development, design, and manufacturing stages with the aim to satisfy even more customers in the future.
*The fuel standards are determined by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, calculated using simulation methods and based on measurements of engine fuel consumption under conditions and standard specifications set in laws and regulations.
Hino Motors has won praise for its all-new Hino Dutro Hybrid light-duty truck models equipped with a new hybrid system, released in July of last year. Company President Yoshio Shirai spoke with Hiroko Kiba, a television presenter well versed in environmental issues, about the significance and benefits of adopting hybrid trucks and buses as commercial vehicles.
Hybrid trucks and buses as work vehicles indispensable for people's livelihoods
Kiba: Many people are concerned about how energy and the environment will affect their children's future. At the university, I lecture on energy- and environment-related themes to students who plan to become teachers, and they are recently showing a great deal of interest in this topic. I understand that Hino Motors is promoting hybrid vehicles through its environmental measures related to commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses.
Shirai: Trucks and buses are work vehicles indispensable for people's livelihoods. As such, they should run dependably for long periods and also be friendly to the environment. In fiscal 2015, Japan set a national average fuel efficiency target of 9.51 kilometers per liter for light-duty trucks under 7.5 tonnes in total weight, considered to be the small-sized truck primarily used in the country. To achieve this target, we believed that the best solution was to make hybrid systems that combine clean diesel engines and electric motors.
Hino Motors released a hybrid route bus in 1991-the world's first commercially available hybrid vehicle. Since then, the Company has continued to be a leader in environmental technologies for commercial vehicles. Our most recent diesel hybrid models improve fuel efficiency, help reduce CO2 emissions, and produce cleaner exhaust emissions. They also offer a good balance between all aspects of commercial vehicle usage, which include cruising distance, load capacity, customization adaptability, and costs. Hino Motors has already produced over 12,000 commercial hybrid vehicles; we have indeed entered an era in which trucks and buses are naturally regarded as being hybrid vehicles.
Environmentally friendly trucks improve operations by reducing CO2 emissions and costs
Kiba: It appears that the new Hino Dutro Hybrid light-duty truck released last July is selling well.
Shirai: Hybrid vehicle advantages can be realized most effectively in light-duty trucks, which are used for an array of work in industries with irregular schedules. Compared to conventional diesel trucks, the new Hino Dutro Hybrid can improve fuel efficiency by 50 percent. It marks the first full-scale overhaul of our Dutro models in 12 years. The trucks have been purchased by a vast number of customers, from independent businesses and small companies to major corporations. Some of this success can be attributed to television commercials which we aired for the first time in 10 years.
Kiba: As challenging economic conditions persist, there must be high demand for vehicles that can help tangibly reduce costs and expand business.
Shirai: Improving fuel efficiency is the biggest factor for directly helping commercial vehicle operators to improve business. Depending on the way they are driven, our previous hybrid vehicle models may not necessarily achieve better fuel efficiency than conventional diesel vehicles. However, our new models are more fuel-efficient across the board. In fact, these vehicles are now among the best in Japan for low fuel consumption.
We initially worked with customers and monitored their driving; the new hybrid system was found to be 50 percent more fuel-efficient than diesel vehicles. Consequently, many of our vehicles were overhauled as new Hino Dutro Hybrids. Customers have praised the new model for its ability to help lower costs significantly.
Kiba: Would you comment on the data released by the company showing that environmentally conscious driving can reduce road accidents?
Shirai: Eliminating quick starts and sudden stops contribute to safe driving. It also makes drivers more aware of fuel efficiency and the natural environment. Moreover, customers are happy to report that adopting environmentally conscious driving methods not only reduces costs, but also improves their corporate image, which leads to more business opportunities.
Kiba: Business operators and purchasing managers must be concerned about taking on the initial investment of upgrading to hybrid vehicles. How would you respond to that?
Shirai: To give an example: if a company was able to reduce fuel expenses by 1,000 liters over one year, they would cut 125,000 yen in costs during that period, assuming a fuel price of 125 yen per liter. After the initial expense for purchasing the vehicles is recovered, the difference between fuel costs of the previous vehicles and new vehicles is simply reflected in operations. Companies can certainly enjoy major benefits through the use of hybrid vehicles.
The world's most adaptable commercial vehicles to help rebuild disaster areas
Kiba: When transportation was paralyzed during the Great East Japan Earthquake, the many trucks used to deliver essential supplies became important for the livelihood of disaster victims. What are your thoughts about this?
Shirai: The entire Hino Group worked together to help; our response included lending trucks at no charge to local governments in the disaster areas. Our dealers in the Tohoku region, who also sustained damage themselves, had staff work day and night to repair customers' trucks that had been submerged by the tsunami. These efforts demonstrated how trucks play a crucial role in people's lives and reaffirmed the importance of bonds with customers. We also became doubly aware of our social mission to provide vehicles and services that can support society's infrastructure and enrich customers' livelihoods.
Kiba: Commercial vehicles do indeed play an essential role in society. Hino Motors seems to be taking on commendable challenges, such as competing in the Dakar Rally every year. Looking ahead, in what ways should we expect Hino Motors to contribute positively to the future of children around the world as a global company?
Shirai: Hino Motors' corporate mission is "to make the world a better place to live by helping people and goods get to where they need to go-safely, economically and with environmental responsibility-while focusing on sustainable development." There are still many people over the world without access to safe, highly fuel-efficient vehicles. To fulfill our role, we want to bring joy to a greater number of people by providing the most advanced, environmentally friendly trucks and buses to markets in every region, from advanced countries to emerging nations. I hope you will look forward to watching Hino Motors pursue this mission.
Among internal combustion engines, diesel engines demonstrated the best fuel efficiency results. Furthermore, diesel hybrid systems achieved superior fuel efficiency to gasoline hybrid systems, contributing to the largest comparative reductions in CO2 emissions.
Hino Motors' three television commercials for the new Hino Dutro Hybrid share a common theme: a young person introducing the truck to a parent working at a small business in their hometown. The commercials also feature a song with a message of support to the future of working people and their children.
Advertising Planning and production: Nihon Keizai Shimbun Cross-Media Sales Bureau Sponsor: Hino Motors, Inc. (Web site: hino-global.com); for inquiries about Hino Dutro trucks, please call 0120-852-894 (available in Japan only)