Hino is leading the way with its Poncho when it comes to on-demand transport. The unique bus will continue pushing the future of flexible transport services in 2023.
It’s been five years since the Hino Poncho first hit the industry.
“When it was introduced, we knew the Poncho bus would appeal to flexible transport applications such as community transport, aged care, disability and special needs providers,” manager of Hino Bus Sara Clark told ABC.
Growth in technology-driven flexible transport and on-demand services has been rapid, especially in New South Wales.
“The Poncho is the perfect mobility solution for bus operators providing on-demand services with easy access for all passengers,” Clark says. “Wheelchair boarding can take less than one minute compared to a traditional small bus.”
Hino national sales manager Kevin Fielding says the Poncho has been around in Japan since 2002.
“We pushed for a demonstration model to gauge the reactions to it,” Fielding told ABC back in 2019. “From the start the feedback has always been really positive, so the next step was to bring them to the Australian market.”
Clark says the Poncho is a popular choice for on-demand operators who are attracted to its versatility in delivering flexible transport services. It fully complies with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, which are the new standards requiring all Australian public transport networks and associated infrastructure to be fully accessible by mid-2023.
Clark says innovative kerb-kneeling technology, a flip out wheelchair ramp and dedicated wheelchair space inside provides level entry for all passengers.
“Operators appreciate our ability to work with them to provide mobility solutions that best suit the requirements of their fleet while the Poncho’s safety, passenger comfort and accessibility appeal to patrons who use flexible transport services,” Clark says.
Hino has also prioritised safety with the Poncho’s large 850mm sliding door, featuring sensitive touch technology and sensors near the entrance stopping the door from closing if there’s an obstruction.
The door is also prevented from opening until the bus is in neutral and has come to a complete stop. From there, drive and reverse can only be selected again once the door is fully closed.
With a turning circle of less than eight metres, the 18 seat plus driver vehicle measures under seven metres in length. Clark says the Poncho is highly manoeuvrable and well-equipped. It includes features like power steering, telescopic and tilt-adjustable steering column, a three-way driver’s seat and an airbag suspension system with stabilisers.
In 2023 and beyond, Clark says Hino will continue prioritising its unique Poncho model. Like all Hino products, Clark says Hino buses are built with the core brand attributes of quality, durability and reliability that it has been delivering with its buses for more than 55 years to the Australian market.
“Poncho drivers benefit from a comprehensive field of vision which includes an infrared, night-vision enabled reverse camera that is perfect for night-time operations,” Clark says.
What to look forward to in 2023
For Hino in 2023, it will continue promoting its Poncho bus as a viable option for on-demand and flexible transport services in Australia.
As an Australian DDA compliant, ultra-low floor vehicle, the Poncho will continue to provide an exciting solution for the future of on demand transport.