Hino South Africa will have to consider its production capacity in the assembly plant in Prospecton, near Durban, as projected sales of 4 950 units for 2019 will be close to the plant’s single-shift capacity of 5 000 units a year.

The company is eyeing increased export volumes as it now supplies SA-specification trucks to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi in addition to those in the SA Customs Union, where Namibia is showing growth. In the long term this increase in demand could result in expansions to the production plant.

Ernie Trautmann, Vice President of Hino SA, says he expects the SA truck market to continue to virtually stagnate in 2019, as it has done for the past two years, at least until the national election is over. He said that the first month of 2019 was already proving slow in terms of sales.

Hino, together with the Toyota Dyna light truck range, had a good year in 2018 in terms of sales, ending up with a total of 4 318 units sold. Dyna sales, which are now recorded in the light commercial vehicle segment, jumped 63.9% from 681 units in 2017 to 1 116. Pure Hino sales totalled 3 202 units which equated to 11.6% of the total SA truck market.

Hino’s medium commercial vehicle sales were down 3.5% on 2017, largely due to a stock shortage as forecasts were cut after a 5% dip in overall truck sales in the first half of 2018. However, Hino’s heavy commercial sales, which included the new, Hino 500 Wide Cab models, were up 19.3% and its extra-heavy sales increased by 8.9% for 17.3% growth in combined Dyna and Hino sales.

Trautmann said that sales trends in the Hino 300 and 500 ranges show the strong swing to automatic transmissions versus automated manual transmissions (AMT) and manual gearboxes. “This is a permanent swing in preference, driven to a large extent by Hino, which will continue to accelerate,” he explained.

Hino enjoyed a strong performance in parts sales and technical service too. Parts sales were up 2.3% to R354-million despite no general increase in parts pricing and, in fact, a 4% decrease in the prices of certain parts that had been considered out of line with the competition. The number of trucks serviced by Hino dealers was up 3.7% compared to the previous year.

“We are, generally, very happy with our performance in a market that showed only marginal growth in 2018 and believe we are now on course for a better performance in 2019, with many innovations to boost brand image and sales, while further improving our levels of customer satisfaction,” said Trautmann.

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