Bumper sales of 8675 trucks and vans for the first three months of 2018 underline a booming commercial vehicle market in what is increasingly being recognised as a strong business environment in Australia.

The first quarter saw record, or near record, new truck deliveries with sales up a massive 1,517 units on the same quarter in 2017 and was even in front of the market record set in 2008, just prior to the GFC when the industry moved 8,267 trucks and vans in the first three months of that year.

Last month also produced some outstanding sales figures with 3447 units sold, a 16.4 per cent or 485 unit increase on March 2017.

The heavy and medium sectors of the market again led the way with Heavy Duty up 37.1 per cent or 781 units for the quarter and 19.8 per cent or 194 units for March, compared with the same periods last year. A total of 1174 new heavy-duty trucks hit the roads in March and there have been 2903 new heavy duties moved for the quarter to the end of March.

Isuzu was the overall market leader yet again and had a spectacular result selling 817 trucks for a 23.7 per cent market share ahead of Hino with 440 deliveries and Fuso with a huge 27.3 per cent increase on its February result with 373 sales for March to take third overall.

Most makers scored well in Heavy Duty with Kenworth again leading the way with a massive 212 deliveries for the month and 18.1 per cent market share while also taking fourth in overall sales. It was 36 units ahead of Volvo in second, which edged Isuzu by seven trucks with the Japanese maker delivering 169 units to Volvos 176 trucks to sort the Heavy Duty sales podium for the month. Mack was fourth with 98 deliveries, Scania next with 93, Mercedes with 71, Iveco with 58 and MAN with 50, again thanks largely to the German makes’ ADF contract.

Medium Duty was up 34.2 per cent or 189 units for the month compared with March 2017 with a total of 742 trucks delivered, bolstering the segments performance for the quarter with a total of 1,768 trucks delivered, an improvement of 28.3 per cent or 390 units on the first quarter last year.

Medium Duty saw Isuzu move 290 units for the month exactly 100 units ahead of Hino’s monthly result of 190 while Fuso posted 115 deliveries. MAN posted 78 units, clearly benefiting from military deliveries to be fourth in medium duty while UD was knocked back to fifth.

Even the tiddlers scored some big improvements with Light Duty up 7.7 per cent or 71 units on the sales of March last year with a total of 994 light duty being delivered in Australia last month. For the quarter Light Duty sales are up 10.4 per cent on the same period last year.

The surprise in Light Duty was Fuso taking second in the category with 212 deliveries putting it 146 units behind Light Duty segment leader Isuzu and just seven trucks ahead of fierce rival Hino

Light Duty truck sales (those trucks with a GVM between 3,500 kg and 8,000 kg) have been performing well for the past couple of years and sales in 2018 at the “little end” of the market remain solid. March saw sales in the Light Duty segment total 994 units, up 7.7 per cent (71 trucks) over March 2017.  At the end of the first quarter of 2018, Light Duty sales are ahead of the same period last year by 10.3 per cent, or 241 units.

Light Duty Van sales (GVM between 3.5 and 8 tonne) were up 6.1 per cent, or 31 vans for the month with a total of 537 units in March while the first quarter tally stands slightly ahead of the same quarter last year, up 7.5 per cent or 100 vans with sales of 1,429 van sales for the three months to the end of March.

“It is pleasing that after more than a decade we are seeing some old benchmarks reached, or surpassed. March and first quarter 2018 truck sales were all time records and in line with industry trends that we have seen building for the past twelve months,” said president of the Truck Industry Council, Phil Taylor.

“It has taken the heavy vehicle market in Australia a long time to recover from the GFC, more than ten years and over that time we have seen our nation’s truck fleet age considerably. It will take many more years of record growth for our average truck age to get back to where it was in 2007 and that is considered very old by global standards. However, for now the market is strong and let’s hope that this trend continues for the rest of the year and beyond!” Mr Taylor concluded.

CEO of Truck Industry Council Tony McMullan said the ageing truck fleet is a concern and more needs to be done to ensure that the significant level of safety, environmental and productivity features available in newer trucks permeates through our nation’s fleet.

‘In this regard more action is required by our country’s regulators to incentivise the take-up of these technologies.” Mr McMullan added.