April 03, 2017

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New horizons in significant year for commercial vehicle specialist

Shin Nakamura, President of Hino Motor Sales (Thailand)

This year sees Hino’s landmark 500 Victor truck getting a new look, just in time for Hino’s Thai subsidiary’s 55th anniversary celebration in the country. Featuring the very latest in safety technology, intelligent design and superb engine quality, the 500 Victor has been a bestseller in Thailand since its launch in 2015 — and the new design and key anniversary have come together in a serendipitous “500-55” whose objective is to solidify Hino’s reputation in the Southeast Asian powerhouse.

“We have a Hino truck that has been driven for 2 million kilometers in Thailand without any engine overhaul,” says Shin Nakamura, president of Hino Motor Sales (Thailand), not without a note of pride. “That’s compared to the average distance traveled before an overhaul is needed for a truck — less than 700,000 kilometers.” His company’s obsession with quality is well known.

In Thailand, Hino’s history of over half a century of quality products and premium service means over 40 percent of its sales are to existing satisfied customers. After-sales care is almost as important as the trucks themselves.

“We try to ensure a one-day fix for all commercial vehicles,” says Nakamura. “We make sure we have spare parts on hand at all times. Our 89 dealers and outlets across Thailand all have their spare parts inventory and garages for this. Our clients need our products for their own businesses, so each day lost to repair is bad for our customers.”

Looking out at the familiar landscape of highways and trees from his office window in northern Bangkok, Nakamura is far from a newcomer to the country. He grew up here, where his father — Kenichi Nakamura — was himself president of the same company.

The son left Thailand when he was 20 to start a career in Hino in Japan. After decades of work with stints in Japan and Canada, he came back and eventually achieved the presidency of Hino (Thailand) in 2013, a full circle.

“My father’s policy was: ‘Be Thai when in Thailand,’” he recalls. “He made sure all our employees were treated well. He learned Thai culture to be able to relate to all co-workers. I could do no less.”

Hino itself started in Thailand in 1962, in a joint venture with Mitsui. After being involved in cars and other vehicles, it eventually focused on commercial transport — buses and trucks. Today it maintains the second-largest market share in its sector in Thailand, a share that Nakamura is optimistic will grow stronger in this anniversary year.

Since 2011, Hino Thailand has seen a dramatic increase in sales, brought on primarily by increased demand for large utility trucks. Expansion within the Southeast Asian region, and especially growing economies among Thailand’s neighbors, should also boost further growth.

Hybrid trucks are also on the horizon for Hino Thailand. The possibility of manufacturing these in Thailand in the future has been considered. An entirely new sector would be opened up as energy efficiency becomes more important, and Hino intends to be a player.

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