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Decarbonisation gap bridged by hybrids: Hino

Hino Australia pushes hybrid trucks as stepping stone on decarbonisation journey

13 May 2024

HINO Australia continues its 300 Series diesel-electric hybrid push amid a widespread electrification focus sweeping the transport industry, including hopes to expand its range with the Japan-only 700 Series Hybrid.   
While Hino does offer its light-duty Dutro Z-EV electric truck in Japan, which has been in production for more than a year, the Australian arm is focused on its hybrid offerings.  
Hino Australia president and CEO Richard Emery sat down with GoAuto to discuss the truck-maker’s hybrid focus as it aims to offer a bridging solution to decarbonisation of the road transport industry.  
“We had clients who had said to us last year, ‘nope, we’re looking at buying some battery-electric trucks, we don’t think hybrid-electric’,” Mr Emery said.  
“They’re now coming back and discussing it with us again.” 
Mr Emery says the truck-maker saw strong interest in electric trucks at a dealer level last year, but the interest is beginning to shift back to hybrids as a mid-term solution. 
“Everyone was buying an electric truck, but all they were doing was buying one or two to trial or test,” he said. 
“A year later, they’re saying, ‘right, we’ve got that in place now, but for us as a truck business making wholesale changes to our fleet across to electric is probably five years away’. 
“So they can keep buying diesels, slow down the rotation of trucks, or re-look at hybrid-electrics.” 
The truck market shift, Mr Emery says, mimics the cooling seen across the passenger battery electric vehicle (BEV) market as later-to-adopt consumers question practicality, purchase price and, of course, residual value.  
In fact, hybrid car sales were up 195 per cent year-on-year in April, while BEVs sales experienced a five per cent year-on-year slide in the same month to represent the first year-on-year monthly dip in more than three years.  
“I think you’ve seen that in the general electric car area globally because there’s been a bit of a softening, not in demand but in focus of interest,” said Mr Emery. 
“And of course, the truck industry was always a little bit sceptical about application and range and weight. 
“They knew they’d need to look at it and trial some trucks to see how it works, but obviously with the costs of electric trucks and all of the compromises, it kind of felt to us like last year it was rampant.” 
Mr Emery highlighted that while the car market has achieved a penetration rate of 10 per cent for electric vehicles, the road transport industry operates on weight and compromises are not quite as easy to make.  
“We think there is a glass ceiling on the transition to battery electric between now and 2030, because I just can’t see how the industry is going to pick up more than 10 per cent,” he said. 
“If you think about how many trucks that is, that’s a lot of trucks to go into the industry that need to be charged and are compromised on range and weight and things like that. 
“The industry is not ready to make that shift, not just in terms of what they purchase but how they run their businesses.” 
Hino Australia believes the solution, at least in the interim, is hybrid solutions like its 300 Series Hybrid and the Japan-only 700 Series Hybrid that the firm is pushing to bring Down Under and which Mr Emery revealed is “certainly now on the table”. 
“We’ve said to our dealers, talk to your clients about how they’re going to transition their fleet across the next ten years because that’s how long it’s going to take – maybe longer,” Mr Emery said.  
“So, we think hybrid electric has a five-year window, where guys might say, ‘10 per cent of our trucks are going to move across to battery electric, but we can’t justify the expense and the compromises to go beyond that, so let’s put another 10 or 20 per cent of our fleet to hybrid electric’ 
The rhetoric at Hino Australia is that the hybrid models offer a stepping stone in the electrification journey, complementing battery electric options, which Mr Emery sums up with an analogy. 
“I told one of our dealers that if we’re trying to cross a river, to transition the fleet as we need to do, at the moment stakeholders and shareholders and boards are asking fleet managers to go the whole way in one jump – and some are going to fall into the river,” he said. 
“If we can be the stepping stone in the middle of the river to allow them to have a crack, to start to make the jump to battery electric easier if it’s still two years from now or three years from now. 

“The people jumping the whole way across are also doing it with immense amounts of government money and it’s not sustainable”

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