The Australian truck and van market continues to  stay ahead of the record curve  this year following the release by the Truck Industry Council  of its monthly T-Mark truck sales report for May.

The numbers for last month show that  the  industry sold six per cent more vehicles  than it did for the same month last year, which of course was a record year itself.  There were 4528 trucks and heavy vans sold in Australia last month, up from the 4270 sold in the same period in 2023. The result means the industry  year to date tally for the first five months sits at 18,915 total sales, up 3.12 per cent on the tally to the end of May last year.

There were winners and losers up and down the sales charts, as there always are, with one of  the biggest winners being the Volvo Group with its three heavy brands, Volvo, Mack and UD all having an outstanding month.

Isuzu, almost as a matter of course, was again number one in the overall truck sales tally, selling up strongly in heavy, medium and light segments, to record a total of 1288 sales for the month. That performance gave Isuzu 28.4 per cent overall market share, meaning almost one in three trucks sold in Australia in May bore the Isuzu badge.

By comparison Hino, its nearest rival in the market  was next best with a total of 420 sales in May  for 9.3 per cent market share. Volvo again took third overall with its flagship Swedish brand, out distancing  the normal third placed Fuso. This despite the fact that all but nine of the trucks Volvo sold were heavy duty models ( the rest were in medium), while Fuso sold across all three categories. In fairness Fuso was only 21 units behind the Swedish behemoth, and apparently was supply constrained again last month.

With Fuso taking fourth Kenworth was fifth overall with 316 deliveries in May, ahead of Mercedes with 170, Iveco and Scania tied on 156, and Mack in ninth with 99 sales and UD on 97,  the two Volvo owned brands rounding out the top ten, each just falling short of cracking the ton for the month.

As per usual all eyes were on heavy duty and the battle for supremacy  between Volvo and Kenworth at the top of the pops. Volvo has come agonisingly close to knocking off  Kenworth for the heavy crown in the past two years, but this year, as the sales race heads to the mid-way point at the end of June, the Swedish brand has a commanding lead, particular comared to  the same time last year.

At the end of May 2023 Volvo led Kenworth by just 15 trucks, however this time around Volvo has a 178 truck buffer on  the Paccar brand, the best lead it has had at this time of year in the fight for the heavy crown. Volvo did lead Kenworth by 80 trucks at the end of May 2020, but the Paccar brand ran the Swedish brand down and won heavy duty that year by 177.

While we would be loathe to write off Kenworth just yet, given the legendary tenacity and will to win of the team at Bayswater, some pundits believe that  defeat in recent years after  early leads, has strengthened  the resolve of the Volvo team, and that this might be the year.

One industry expert, who asked not to be named, told Truck and Bus News that it would not surprise him if Volvo pulled off the win in heavy this year.

“They really want it bac this year and they  are pulling out all stops,” the expert told us.

Newly installed Volvo Trucks Australia vice president, Tom Chapman comes into the role after some notable success with the Mack brand in  the last couple of years and this may weigh on the sales results in the heavy segment in 2024.

In medium duty Isuzu easily accounted for its Japanese opponents, capturing 53.9 per cent share of the segment with 404 registrations, up against the 203 sales and 27.1 per cent share for rival Hino. Fuso fell well short in third place with 86 medium sales, while Hyundai climbed the sales charts to fourth, albeit with just 15 sales for its mediums in May. Behind them came Iveco with 10, Volvo with nine, UD with seven, MAN with six while Mercedes and DAF  both sold four, and Sea-Electric moved two medium electrics.

The medium duty market in May tallied 750 sales, which was a total of  66 trucks ahead  of where it was in the same month in 2023.

In light duty Isuzu had a stellar performance selling a total of 658 light duty models in May , giving it 50.3 per cent of the segment. However Fuso, despite poor showings in medium and heavy duty last month, shone through to be second overall in the light sector last month. The Daimler owned Japanese brand registered 186 of its Canter light duty models, giving it 14.2 per cent of the sector, compared with rival Hino’s disappointing 145 sales and 11.1 per cent of the sector.

Iveco again showed that without its Daily light duty truck product it would be in real trouble locally, with the Daily light duty truck models registering 127 sales. To be fourth in the light duty category, well ahead of Mercedes with 64 lights, Fiat with 56, Hyundai with an impressive 24, and Foton Mobility with an equally impressive 23 of its electric light duty trucks for the month.

Renault with 12, Ford with ten and VW with two  rounded out the light duty numbers.

Light duty trucks was the only truck category to be down on its figures from May last year selling a total of 1307 units across the sector last month, down about 238 light duties or about 15.4 per cent on the same month in 2023.

In the van sector Mercedes-Benz had a bumper month selling 312 of its market leading Sprinter van taking 36.4 per cent of the sector, while Ford loomed large behind it having registered 213 heavy Transits and 24.9 per cent share. Renault was in third in the van sector moving 85 of its Masters, ahead of  Fiat with 62 of its Ducatos and Iveco a disappointing tally of just 38 Daily vans in May.

In what was an impressive display in May heavy vans registered a total of 845 units across all brands involved in the TIC T-Mark tally, a rise of 346 units or a lift of 67.8 per cent on the van result from May last year.

The ebullient times continue in the commercial vehicle sector and it is going  to be intriguing as we track the fortunes of the industry as a whole, not to mention the battle for heavy duty supremacy over the closing seven months of the year.