Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) is progressively upgrading its 300 plus-strong fleet of service vans to Toyota's newest-generation HiAce, providing multiple benefits for its service technicians, the business' footprint and the same high degree of service and support for its customers, nationally.
TMHA general manager - Service, Mal Paterson, said the entire fleet of HiAce service vans will be replaced with the new model, which has been completely redesigned for the first time in 15 years.
Mr Paterson said the idea to upgrade the national fleet of service vans was sparked by the new HiAce launch in 2019.
"We started a Steering Committee in mid-2019 after it was launched, which comprised service technicians, service management and workplace health and safety," said Mr Paterson. "We looked at the configuration, the racking and drawers and sliders. We considered parts storage, oil, batteries and safety equipment. We also changed it from pneumatic to electric compressors and power tools.
"We really valued the input from the service technicians that will be ultimately be using the van. Then we started testing it with our longstanding racking partner, Caddy Storage, which has been particularly helpful throughout the process.
"Caddy Storage is our exclusive partner and has a national presence but all the vans get fitted-out in Sydney."
Mr Paterson said the first new service van has already hit the road and a further 32 will follow it in the following weeks.
The new HiAces are a combination of long wheelbase (LWB) and super long wheelbase (SLWB) variants. Both models have turbodiesel engines and automatic transmissions. "They have slightly different configurations but generally they're the same," Mr Paterson said. "Both models can service all TMHA brands and equipment types."
Each model sits on an appreciably longer and wider all-new platform. The LWB is 570mm longer and the SLWB is 535mm longer than the previous-generation models. Combined with a substantially wider (up to 215mm) interior space, this ensures they maintain respectively large cargo capacities of 6.2 cubic metres and 9.3 cubic metres.
Engine efficiencies have brought increased power output and greater fuel cost- and emission- savings.
The new 130kW 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine offers more peak power and torque, with an increase of up to 30kW and up to 150Nm compared with its 3.0-litre predecessor.
At the same time, official combined cycle fuel consumption for the turbodiesel has been cut by up to 8.7 per cent - thanks in part to a new stop/start system - with the manual LWB turbodiesel van variant returning a figure of just 7.5l/100km2.
Both models come with the latest suite of Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features. These include a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and auto high beam.
Further standard safety features include cruise control, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and up to nine airbags depending on the model.
With its new semi-bonneted design, Toyota has been able to move the engine forward ahead of the front axle and seats, providing easier access to the engine bay, improved safety and greater stability and ride comfort. In addition to a smoother ride and quieter cabin, the semi-bonneted design delivers improved handling and agility.
Designed to appeal to drivers who often spend long days behind the wheel, the new HiAce has a redesigned cabin with improved ergonomics for greater driver comfort and convenience.
The new cabin is easier to access, has a lower seating position, features height-adjustable driver's seat, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel with controls for the audio, infotainment and cruise control systems, manual air conditioning and extensive storage.
It also has a completely redesigned dash that provides significant ergonomic advantages.
With only one van presently on road for service, driver feedback is limited, yet encouraging.
"So far, feedback has been positive. We're hearing it drives really well - it's nice to drive - and that it's very comfortable. Also, about the improved access to tools and parts which boosts efficiencies for our customers, plus the abundant safety and convenience features.
TMHA exclusively partnered with longstanding racking partner, Caddy Storage, on the new HiAce's configuration including the racking, drawers and sliders, parts storage, oil, batteries and safety equipment.