Bill Gillespie, General Manager - Brand and Franchise Development
In a highly competitive Australian truck market, Hino Australia has achieved a lot in the past 12 months, including “Delivery Magazine” awarding the 300 Series “Best Light Truck of 2020” along with the all-new 500 Series Standard Cab being added to the winner's list for “Technology and Innovation”.
In March, a new on-line recall search tool was launched and Hino announced a further 3 years of their Virgin Australia Supercars sponsorship including the extension of its Team 18 IRWIN racing partnership.
We met market demand and introduced a long wheelbase variant of the popular FS 2848 6x4 model into the heavy-duty 700 Series range. And as a huge bonus for you, our customers, the smart Multimedia system found in the 500 Series Standard Cab was rolled out to the entire new range of light, medium and heavy-duty Hino trucks.
We’re proud to say for the eighth consecutive year, Hino Australia was extraordinarily named as one of the world's premier Hino distributors, winning titles for parts and service and further reinforcing the Hino Total Support customer focus.
Internally, we proudly appointed a new President and Chief Operating Officer, Sam (Takashi) Suda, who's career spans 36 years at Toyota and Hino, and has big plans to drive the business forward.
It has been a very busy year for us, and with the end of 2019 in sight, we sat down with Bill Gillespie, General Manager - Brand and Franchise Development who gave us some insider information about plans for 2020, and also his view on the future of the truck industry.
Hi Bill, the year is almost over and looking back, how was 2019 for Hino Motor Sales Australia as a business?
2019 has been a very exciting year, as we experienced the first full year of sales for the all-new 500 Series Standard Cab with class leading safety. Over the past 3 years we have conducted tens of thousands of kilometres of testing in Australia to ensure our driveline performance and safety meets Australian conditions, it’s now nice to see our new trucks working hard on our roads. Our goal is to be number one in the medium-duty truck segment in Australia and we’re already well on the way to that achievement on a year to date basis.
From a purely sales perspective, the Hino market share increased in Australia by 1.9% for November 2019 to 24.51% and on a Year to Date (YTD) basis. Whilst the overall market has been decreasing, the Hino market share has been improving each month. Hino is the only Japanese manufacturer to increase market share on a YTD basis, so we’re very pleased.
Another achievement this year is the results we have seen with our 300 Series 4x4 model, which was launched in November 2017 and has proved to be extremely popular. All our sales have far exceeded our original planning volumes and we are planning on developing this further into 2020.
This year, we also moved into our 4th year as the official light and medium-duty truck and bus sponsor for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. As a result we’re experiencing record levels of enquiry on the brand at all levels. We’re really happy to be associated with Supercars and it allows us to showcase our products and interact with our customers in a unique manner. Overall, it is a great alignment for our brand.
Looking ahead, what challenges do you think the truck industry will face in 2020?
Like most industries the truck market is facing overall pressure on sales due to an uncertain global outlook and the continuing trade wars between China and the USA.
Australia finds itself at the centre of the effects of that war with the resulting impact on the Aussie Dollar and higher costs to import goods to Australia. This currency depreciation has flowed onto the truck market and hence after a record 2018 in terms of the overall truck market, we have seen a 12% overall decline in truck sales in 2019. If that trend continues caused by lower Business Confidence then the 2020 market might be severely impacted.
We’re all buoyed by the continuing federal government infrastructure investment, albeit that some of the investment is not due for another few years, but it may lift the overall confidence levels and allow for more business investment which will flow to the truck market.
Does Hino Australia have anything exciting planned for 2020 you can divulge?
I’m not revealing much at this time except to say that we have two very exciting new products to launch in 2020. We believe this will be of huge benefit to our customers and will also help lift Hino sales in 2020, with the intention to continue success in 2021.
We are also aiming to get on the front foot and help alleviate the industry technician shortage evident in the Australian automotive industry. Hino is working with our dealers and aiming to secure more Australian and overseas technicians to benefit the industry.
All I can say for now is stay tuned to our social channels or talk to your closest Hino dealer.
What is the one thing you are looking forward to next year at Hino?
We’re all anticipating more growth in the medium-truck segment as a result of a full year of sales of the all-new 500 Series Standard Cab models, and this should allow Hino to take the number one spot in the Australia medium-duty segment.
Great, thanks for your time, Bill.