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Al Futtaim Hino-Truck manufacturer gears up for the long haul

Making trucks matter when the rubber hits the road.

Trundling along the nation’s highways and road arteries and racing ahead of the competition, HINO trucks are gaining mileage as a popular commercial vehicle brand with a soaring market share that keeps accelerating.

HINO Motors Limited (HML), a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, was founded in the namesake Japanese city of Hino in 1910 and established as a separate company in 1942. Hino has a rich history in the automotive industry and is the largest manufacturer of medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses in Japan. Under the HINO brand, HML represents the Toyota Group in the global market for trucks and buses. Hino also produces Toyota-signature vehicles on commission, including the popular sport utility vehicle, the Land Cruiser Prado, and the FJ Cruiser.

Using the Toyota Production System to achieve continuing gains in productivity and in quality throughout its operations, Hino has adapted that system to its model line to offer customers the best possible products at competitive prices. Worldwide sales of HINO brand trucks and buses total about 100,000 vehicles annually.

Al Futtaim Motors is the national distributor for HINO in the UAE. Global Supply Chain recently conducted an exclusive interview with Ramez Hamdan, Managing Director, Al Futtaim-HINO, on a wide range of issues notably the surging reputation of the HINO trademark as the front runner, bucking trends and racing on as a dominant player in a very competitive marketplace.

Global Supply Chain (GSC): Briefly trace HINO Trucks’ origins in the UAE and bring us to current on how you are now positioned in the country?

Ramez Hamdan (RH): Here In the UAE, HINO is exclusively distributed by Al- Futtaim’s Commercial Vehicle Division, an AL Futtaim Automotive Group company, offering customers access to a well-established network of 3S (Service, Safety, Satisfaction) facilities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

HINO has become a house-hold name in the UAE market for commercial vehicles and currently enjoy the majority market share in the Japanese branded market segment.

GSC: How has Al Futtaim-HINO performed to date in the UAE in 2020 and how does it compare with 2019 and how has the pandemic impacted sales?

RH: HINO commercial vehicles have witnessed growth in market share reaching approximately the 43% mark in December 2020. This undoubtedly has a direct relation to the increased demand across the HINO product range by customers operating in essential industries and services such as Logistics and FMCG suppliers with uninterrupted operations despite the pandemic and lockdown period.

GSC: What is your projected outlook for HINO in 2021?

RH: Heading into 2021, the projected outlook for HINO remains positive and we have established solid plans and solutions to meet our customers’ growing demand through sales and after-sales activities alike, complete with dynamic financing options and effective after-sales campaigns and support.

GSC: In mid-September 2020 Al-Futtaim HINO delivered a major order of 200 trucks to National Food Product Company. How and why did this mega order materialize?

RH: Hino Trucks’ specification, low cost of maintenance, durability and excellent post-sales support ably complemented our offering and success for this order and as our light-duty trucks have become the preferred selection by FMCG operators.

GSC: Earlier this year 150 HINO trucks joined the Dubai Refreshment Company fleet. Tell us more.

RH: Our presence in the F&B industry has been increasing year-on-year, thanks to the trust of our partners put in the quality of our trucks and our ‘HINO Total Support’ after-sales concept.

The 150 HINO trucks have been customized to meet strict and rigourous quality, operational and reliability standards. There was a sustained period and process of protracted negotiations where a lot of parameters were carefully considered and evaluated. We strictly adhered to PepsiCo’s criteria and we were also mandated to provide eco-driving training sessions to efficiently harness the fleet, optimum utilization and enhanced road safety requirements.

The eco-driving trainings come as part of the ‘HINO Total Support’ in addition to helping reduce the risk of major road accidents, the trainings also help drivers optimize total cost of truck ownership, contributing to bottom line performance, improve fuel efficiency, minimize the cost of wear and tear, reduce service and maintenance costs as well as insurance premiums.

GSC: Hino is reportedly the market leader with nearly half of the light-duty truck segment in the UAE. To what do you put the growing popularity of HINO in the UAE?

RH: Al-Futtaim HINO which had increased its market share by around 300% in the past five years has been preferred mobility partner for many companies thanks to HINO’s unmatched Japanese quality and reliability and Al-Futtaim’s dedicated after-sales support.

GSC: How would you characterize the Al Futtaim Commercial Vehicles-HINO partnership?

RH: The association is a robust and strategic partnership built on values of an enhanced customer experience, trust and mutual support.

GSC: What is your range of commercial vehicles and which are among your top selling models in the region?

RH: The HINO line-up offers the widest range of trucks and the range of payload between the series ranging from 2.3 tons to 30 tons and 100 tons GCW, the line-up offers light duty 300 series trucks, medium-duty 500 series and heavy-duty 700 series trucks; and light-duty 300 series trucks are among the top selling models in the region.

GSC: What are your brand strengths and how are you leveraging these to gain a larger market share?

RH: Our strength comes from offering a transportation solution with higher performance Engine Euro4, Eco friendly with more safety features like ABS / Airbag / EGIS Cabin, with a higher service interval of 20,000 kms using Hino Engine Oil.

Also, the availability of a variety of chassis lengths with payloads for different body application are a determining factor. Add to this are other parameters such as the low cost of maintenance, durability and excellent after-sales support gives us a winning advantage versus the competition.

GSC: Do you customize vehicles for specific clientele?

RH: We complete customization requests through an approved body fabricator and at the very best quality and prices offered in the market.

GSC: Are you more optimistic about increased sales in the face of presently falling fuel prices & are you also exploring alternative fuels like hydrogen or hybrid engines (electric / diesel)?

RH: We are exploring Hino Hybrid engines. For example, the Hino300 Series hybrid truck typifies the solutions that will be needed and the truck was first to employ a Euro4 and EVV compliant 4L diesel engine matched to an auxiliary electric motor that is emission-free and significantly reduces emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide.

The Hino300 Series Hybrid is projected to be our front-runner as the market turns towards eco-friendly transport solutions.

GSC: What is the vision for HINO Trucks in the UAE going forward for the short and long-term futures?

RH: Hino Trucks are known for their durability, versatility and its famed ‘Total Support’ after-sales concept in terms of service contracts and spare parts availability. The company’s growth has been based on offering comprehensive tailor-made solutions including genuine spare parts, service contracts, 24/7 service support and expert technical support, all of which promise stable and continued growth in a market that is dynamic, demanding and becoming increasingly environmental conscious.

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