Hino’s FlatFormer concept chassis was a real head-turner at Tokyo Motor Show

Hino Motors, the largest truck, and bus manufacturer in Japan and the sixth biggest in the world, stunned visitors to the heavy commercial vehicle section of the 46th Tokyo Motor Show between October 24 and November 4.

The head-turning display was the FlatFormer concept, a sleek, low-slung, battery-powered light truck chassis on which a variety of body types can be fitted.

This vehicle was very much in line with Hino’s slogan for the show of “Transporting every Happiness” in that it embodied the company’s desire to make everyone in the world happy who is involved in transporting people, goods, and services in a sustainable manner.

Hino believes its FlatFormer will change the concept of mobility in the commercial vehicle world forever by bringing greater efficiency to the movement of people and goods. It will also evolve mobility into a space where it assists in providing super versatile services to enhance the lives of communities and individuals.

The FlatFormer light truck chassis is a 6x6 with each wheel having its own electric motor. The motor, brakes, steering and suspension all fit inside the wheel housings to ensure a flat surface for the chassis. This novel, electric, modular corner technology was developed by Hino in conjunction with international consultants REE. The FlatFormer has 170kW of electric power available with a lithium ion battery capacity of 50kWh.

Hino also had a diesel-electric hybrid 700 Series 8x4 rigid on its stand which uses advanced GPS, onboard sensors, and 3D map information to predict road conditions – including gradients – up to 100km away. These systems work with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide optimal control of the hybrid powertrain which will reduce the environmental footprint by minimising electric power consumption and maximising fuel economy with the diesel engine.

Among the other displays on the Hino stand was an Emergency Driving Stop System (EDSS) which detects problems the driver may encounter, such as a heart attack. and assists in stopping the vehicle safely. When a problem is detected the vehicle turns off the road and stops. A simulator allowed visitors to the Hino display to experience this for themselves. Hino sees this latest safety technology as another contributor to cutting road traffic casualties.

There was even a Hino Kids’ Corner Future Mobility Lab, where children were encouraged to use building blocks to create their versions of future mobility. They could then take a photograph of their creation and enter a competition.

Although the major focus on the Hino stand was looking to the future, there was also a link with the company’s past in the form of a 1964 Hino Contessa passenger car which was the first domestic car designed, engineered and manufactured by Hino when it made both cars and trucks. It is thus an important aspect of Hino’s history which stretches back more than a hundred years.

HINO COMES UP WITH A NEW BUZZ WORD IN MOBILITY ENVIRONMENT

Hino Motors Limited has come up with a new buzz word for use in the growing global environment of mobility. The acronym CASE is already in general use, meaning Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric. Now Hino President Yoshio Shimo has added a P for Platform to make the word SPACE.

Addressing the international media at the recent Tokyo Motor Show the senior Hino executive said that the world was now in a time of big changes, with individuals and businesses having to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Shimo added that the automotive industry had to accept that there were now differing demands and needs coming from consumers that had to be incorporated in future planning of vehicles and other offerings in the mobility space.

“In the case of commercial vehicles, they need to support a sustainable economy, which includes making use of adaptable and versatile platforms to meet individual requirements,”

explained Shimo.

He added that Hino’s thinking of transport in the future had resulted in coining the word SPACE, with the following meanings:

S for Sharing mobility, space, and time.

P for Platform, which will support diverse requirements through an ever-changing period of transformation.

A for Autonomous, which will liberate vehicles from requiring a driver.

C for Connected in terms of mobility, people, goods, and cities.

E for Electric power, which increases efficiency and flexibility.

It was then the opportunity for designer Yuji Sekiguchi and Kozue Kobayashi, who is involved with research and development as well as future technologies at Hino, to explain how the FlatFormer light truck concept is an ideal answer to the demands of the various aspects of SPACE.

They went on to say how the FlatFormer was an image of the future which offered practicality and versatility. For example, the FlatFormer could be fitted with a bus body at peak hours for transporting people, use a specialised catering body during the day and after the afternoon bus transport the same FlatFormer chassis can be fitted with a third type of body and then be used by a security company during the night.

Hino President Shimo went on to say that his team had come up with other suitable and relevant words derived from the letters in the word SPACE,

These words are:

S for Speed, which means responding quickly and flexibly to change.

P for People, which means walking side-by-side with consumers and customers and viewing change from their perspectives.

A for Attitude, which means acting with the right mindset.

C for Change, which means learning and growing from the challenges of change.

E for Emotion, which means joining forces together to share excitement arising from change.

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