Japanese OEM Banks on Across-the-Board QualityFri, 09/01/2017 - 10:29
Quality is crucial when deciding between two products. Hino Motors is more than aware of this, so the Japanese company is determined to make quality the company’s flagship characteristic. “We want to offer high quality across all businesses,” says Nozomu Harada, President and Director General of Hino Motors Sales México. Though Hino may not yet enjoy the same popularity as more-established competitors, the Japanese OEM is growing steadily in Mexico. “Right now, we hold a 4 percent share in the Mexican market. By 2017 we expect to increase this market share to 5 percent,” says Harada. While the 4 percent mark might seem low compared to the 50 percent participation the company has in the Japanese market, maintaining the steady growth it has been experiencing is more important.
Harada says that to increase the company’s market share and maintain its sales levels, Hino Motors plans to expand its product line. In addition to its medium and large trucks, the company is introducing a smaller truck in Mexico and a long-haul tractor in the near future. “Transport technology is constantly changing. We believe that for inter-state transport, larger trucks will still be the preferred transportation means but smaller trucks will become more popular for inter-urban travel,” says Harada.
Hino’s contribution to the transport sector exceeds the scope of truck sizes. The Japanese OEM offers green options, including hybrid and natural gas engines. Its product offering complements Volvo and Daimler’s existing hybrid products and natural gas engines offered by Scania and Daimler. The use of hybrid engines is expected to play an important role in the reduction of pollution in Mexico in the coming years. Unlike diesel engines, vehicles with hybrid engines do not generate the same amount of nitrogen dioxide particles associated with several health conditions. “Hino wants to contribute to Mexican society. We are concerned about the environment and want to play our part in taking care of it,” says Harada.
The use of hybrid engines not only contributes to improving the quality of the environment but also has a positive impact on cost reduction. According to the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), “hybrid technologies reduce fuel consumption from heavy-duty vehicles significantly. Fuel economy improvements for these units have been reported to range from about 10 percent to 50 or 70 percent depending on the level of hybridization, hybrid architecture and duty cycles.”
Harada expects price considerations to play an important role in people choosing to use hybrid technology, particularly the fact that a hybrid vehicle decreases operational costs. “Usually, the biggest expenses of operating a heavy vehicle come from three different sources: fuel, maintenance and the operator’s wages. With a hybrid vehicle, we expect to decrease fuel consumption levels and thus overall prices.” Contributing to green transport while increasing market share is, in most cases, easier said than done. But Harada has a plan to position Hino in the Mexican market through quality. “Hino’s strategy is based on three quality pillars. These are: product quality, customer service and a strong aftersales service.”
The distinction between these three factors is pivotal. “Product quality is directly related to the trucks and engines we sell and the service clients get from sales people or service consultants,” Harada says. Hino values quality in its products, the mechanic’s service and skills and its customer service. The products come from Hino’s plant in Japan, which ensures they arrive with the best quality, and Hino’s service points in Mexico are home to mechanics who are trained in-house to be skilled workers. The OEM is focusing on drivers because they have the most contact with distributors. This implies contacting them and offering training programs or product information on a regular basis.
Hino Motors is also implementing a service feature that has been widely successful in other industries, Hino Passports. “The passport is intended for the unit so even if the vehicle’s operator changes, the new operators still have reason to use Hino’s aftersales service.” To further encourage the use of Hino’s aftersales service, Harada is working to increase locations. At the end of 2016, Hino had more than 70 service points but Harada’s goal is to reach 100.