The Australian commercial vehicle market has had a strong and buoyant start to  the new year  with the overall market up 12.6 per cent in January compared with the same month last year, with the three big Japanese makers all registering significant gains on their results last January.

Total sales of trucks and vans  over 3.5 tonnes was just shy of 2000 for  the month of January, compared with 1852 total sales in January last year.

Interestingly Isuzu, Hino and Fuso each sold more trucks last month than they did in the January of the all-time record year of 2018.

The only sector to be down on sales results from last  January was Medium Duty  which ,,  while Heavy Duty was ahead slightly and Light Duty was the stellar performer recording a 42.9 per cent gain on its performance in January last year, largely on the back of the ongoing strong demand for home delivery vehicles.

Isuzu was again  the  overall market leader, kicking off its quest for a 33rd consecutive year leading the sales charts. Isuzu sold exactly 500 trucks  for the month to take exactly a quarter of the overall market with a 25 per cent share.

Perpetual runner up, Hino could still be pleased with its January result, moving 368 trucks to take 16.4 per cent market share, which compares with 211 trucks in January 2020 when it only held 11.8 per cent share.

Similarly Fuso had another good month  despite again taking the final step on the podium. The Daimler owned Japanese brand sold 268 trucks for 12.8 per cent  share, up from  the 188 trucks it sold in the same month last year when it held 10.2 per cent market share.

In the all-important and prestigious Heavy sector, Kenworth was down, albeit by just five trucks, on its January 2020, but still led the sector with 112 units. This contrasts with the massive 326 unit haul it bagged in December. The January result leads us to believe  that the Paccar team may have pulled a lot of sales forward in the last month of 2020 to ensure a big win over its rival Volvo, and as such didn’t have a lot of stock left for a  full on assault in January.

Volvo  took second in Heavy Duty for the month and coincidentally it was up exactly five units on its January 2020 totals, matching Kenworth’s drop. Volvo recorded 93 sales while Isuzu was third in the sector with 81 heavies, down seven units on its 2020 January result.

The biggest gains in Heavy duty  were for Mercedes Benz with 70 deliveries for the month, almost double the result  for the same month last year when it sold 38 units. This gave Benz fourth in the sector, while its fellow Daimler brand, Freightliner, was fifth with 34 units, marking what could be  the first signs it’s Cascadia model is starting to have some affect on  the sales, after Covid delays thru 2020.

There were some big sales drops for Scania, DAF and Mack compared with January last year. Scania numbers were almost halved, down from 61 to 33 for the month, Mack was down from 35 to 23 units and DAF dropped from 23 to just 9 units January on January.

Medium duty, as previously mentioned, was the only sector to be down, with sales  for January this year down  15.8 per cent  on January 2020. The big three were all down, Isuzu dropping 41 units, Hino off 28  and Fuso down 10 units.

The boom in light duty was partly on the back of home delivery demand and also partly on the back of residual deliveries  of trucks ordered in 2020 as part of the capital equipment tax incentives.

Whatever it was, clearly had an affect with any sector up 42.9 per cent for comparable months obviously answering a strong demand.

Isuzu registered 276 units for the month, a rise of 80 trucks on January last month, although the brand dropped light duty market share, albeit just 0.5 per cent on the same month.

Hino sold 172  trucks in January, up 77 units on its result this time last year  and at the same time its light duty share jumped five points, up from 18.6 to 23.6 percent. Similarly Fuso also posted a stellar result with 160 light duty sales  up from 92 in January last year.

Mercedes Benz was impressive selling 44 of its Sprinter based truck versions to be fourth overall with a product we have long said presents an attractive alternative to the less comfortable ride and dynamics of the Japanese cab-over light duty machines.

Mercedes Benz also had a good result in vans topping the sector  with 97 sales ahead of Ford Transit, which improved markedly with 87 sales for the month.

Most makers, particularly the Japanese, are reporting  strong order banks running deep into 2021, which may indicate a strong bounce back this year after the blips  that happened in 2020.