The history of Hino is rooted in the Tokyo Gas Industry Company, founded in 1910. The new enterprise built equipment for gas street lighting. The company’s affairs were very mediocre, until in 1912 its competitors acquired and liquidated the main client of the company. To stay afloat, the management of Tokyo Gas Industry was forced to look for new areas of activity.
So the company began to deal with electric lighting and components, changing its name to Tokyo Gas and Electric Industry (TG&E). In 1917, in the wake of the popularity of automobiles, the company built a new plant, where, in addition to gas and electric equipment, the production of the TGE “A-Type” truck was established.
This car was the first Japanese truck, and the company received a lucrative order from the Japanese army, which required road transport. In 1922, the production of the modernized TG-E G-Type begins, in the 1930th two new models appeared. The TG-E N-Type becomes the first Japanese three-axle truck. In the same year, TG&E builds its first bus on freight units.
From trucks to marine diesels
In 1937, the company joined forces with Tokyo Automobile Industry Co, while remaining the main holder of shares, and, passing under partial state control, almost completely focused on military orders. With the expansion of the production of diesel engines for trucks, the company changes its name to Diesel Motor Industry Co in 1941. The center of production is a plant in one of the suburbs of Tokyo - the town of Hino. The plant produces a wide range of trucks under the Isuzu brand. In 1942, the production of marine diesel engines was mastered, for which a separate unit was formed with the name Hino Heavy Industry. So the paths of future Hino and Isuzu diverge.
After the war, under the influence of a ban on the production of heavy marine diesel engines, the company again returned to its roots - to the cargo topic. In 1946, the first Japanese post-war T10 tractor was launched, already under the Hino brand.
A year later, the first trailer-type bus appears, and by 1950 the company was developing the production of heavy vehicles of different carrying capacities, which were so necessary for the post-war reconstruction of the country.
In the mid-1950s, the company also made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the passenger market. For starters, Renault bought a license to manufacture the 4CV model. In collaboration with Renault specialists, the Japanese managed to quickly create their own models. The attractive Hino Contessa passenger car and the Hino Briska created using its nodes turned out to be quite successful models for the debut. Both cars were produced since 1961 and, thanks to good sales, quickly fell into the focus of larger competitors from Japan.
In 1966, the Hino passenger line was purchased by Toyota. Since the Contessa was not a very successful machine that used too many French parts, and even with the rear-engine layout, Toyota decided to abandon it. But the Briska pickup turned out to be a very interesting model, and Toyota continued its production, updating the design a bit and adding its own engines.
Under the name Toyota RN10 (later RN20 and SR-5), it remained in production without significant changes until 1978 - the same rear-wheel drive and front link suspension, and production was still carried out at Hino plants.
In the late 70s, on the wave of success in conquering the North American market, Toyota found time for a serious modernization of a pickup truck with the roots of Hino.
The new model received a front drive axle from Land Cruiser and new engines from it. The all-wheel drive pickup was called Toyota Hilux and under this name the car, constantly being modernized, is manufactured to this day. And yes, still at Hino's facilities.
From Thailand to Dakar
And what about the cargo direction? Here, by the early 1970s, Hino had firmly taken over the Japanese market. In 1963, the company introduced the mid-tonnage Hino Ranger, which became an absolute bestseller in Japan due to its precise fit into the needs of the market. Heavier cars were of little use on narrow roads, and lighter trucks slowly paid off. The compact, cabless Ranger with its robust design has become the foundation of Hino's success.
It quickly became clear that the trucks of the Japanese company are suitable not only for narrow island roads, but also for the specific Asian road infrastructure as a whole. Expansion to foreign markets began with Thailand, where already in 1964 they not only sold, but also built trucks at the first non-Japanese factory Hino.
Advantageous cooperation with Toyota allows the company to open several factories both in Japan and abroad. In 1974, the European division of Hino was opened, in 1982, a plant in Indonesia, and in 1985 in the United States. By 1988, Hino was manufacturing its 500,000th Ranger range truck, making these mid-tonnage vehicles one of the most common in the world.
The fourth generation of Rangers, launched in 1989, includes light trucks of the Rising Ranger line. These cars have gone down in history because it was for them that DENSO first designed and built the common rail fuel system, which will become the world standard for diesel injection a few years later.
In 1990, Hino, in the wake of global success, first decided to accept the challenge of the Dakar Rally. For any carmaker, Dakar is the most rigorous test of strength, and Hino was important to show the result. To say that everything came at once is to deceive readers. It took Hino seven years to defeat Dakar in the truck class. Only in 1997, Japanese trucks finished first, taking not only the first but also the remaining steps of the podium, leaving competitors far behind.
Under the wing of Toyota.
The two Japanese auto giants have been inextricably linked since the 1960s, but for a long time Toyota tried to maintain maximum independence for the Hino. By the early 2000s, the market posed a new interesting challenge for Hino engineers. The growing popularity of hybrid power plants led to an invasion of the cargo sector. In order to meet the demands of the times and create a hybrid truck, Hino is fully part of Toyota Corporation. Already in 2003, a new Hino model appeared on the market - the Dutro Hybrid, whose power unit, created with the help of Toyota and DENSO engineers, fully complies with the new environmental standards adopted in Japan.
Today, Hino produces a wide range of commercial freight and passenger transport and is in a leading position not only in Japan but also in the world. In addition to standard trucks, the company produces hybrid trucks and buses. In 2013, the company presented to the public a fully electric HINO PONCHO EV bus. The development of new technologies is a priority for Hino, and DENSO specialists who design and build electrical components actively help in this process. Naturally, the range of DENSO spare parts for commercial vehicles is by no means limited to the offer for HINO.