Hino points to good economic times

By: Steve Skinner

Hino is happy with a surprisingly strong Australian economy and the sales of its trucks

Hino points to good economic times
Hino Australia chairman and CEO Steve Lotter.


It’s easy to get a sense of global economic doom and gloom if you watch, read and listen to mainstream media too much.

But here are some of the latest business facts in Australia.

Gross domestic product is growing at a healthy clip of more than three per cent a year, and we haven’t had a recession in Australia for more than a quarter of a century.

The latest company profit results are regarded as good on the whole; and interest rates and inflation are still incredibly low.

And of course the forecasts for bumper growth in the freight task just keep on coming. The latest tip is for a 26 per cent increase over the next decade, from no less a body than the National Transport Commission.

"The economy appears to be in surprisingly good shape," says Hino Australia chairman and CEO Steve Lotter.

"As a country we seem to be transitioning well from the mining boom to the construction boom, both in infrastructure and for housing, and this has been good for the truck market as a whole."

Lotter, head of the number two brand in the Australian truck market, says Hino’s experience is especially good in NSW and Victoria at the moment.

Hino says WA is down because of the mining downturn of course, as is much of Queensland, but south-east Queensland is holding up well because of construction. South Australia is stable.

Things are so good in fact that Hino hasn’t been able to keep up with demand for some models.

However that has a fair bit to do with supply problems out of Japan, with a new plant scheduled to fully operational in October.

While business prospects are good, as an importer Hino is finding the exchange rate to be "tough".

And competition amongst truck suppliers to Australia is as fierce as ever.

"If this isn’t the most competitive truck market in the world, I don’t want to be transferred to the one that is," says Lotter.

Of course trucking operators in Australia know what fierce competition is like, and that no doubt explains why things are tougher for many of them than the positive state of the economy suggests.

Steve Lotter was speaking at a recent media presentation at Hino’s Australian headquarters at Taren Point in southern Sydney.

It was just before the latest Truck Industry Council sales figures were released, which show that as usual, Hino is a clear runner-up to Isuzu.

The brand has sold 2,870 trucks for the year-to-date (YTD) to the end of August in a rising market, giving it a 13.6 per cent market share.

Notwithstanding the overall positive picture, Lotter says: "As an industry we believe that the Government could do more to help grow the overall truck market.

"The average age of trucks on Aussie roads is approaching 15 years, whereas it’s fewer than 10 for most developed countries."

"New trucks are certainly safer and greener, and either a carrot or stick approach could be taken to encourage operators to update and upgrade their fleets."



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