LIGHT UP – HEAVY DROPS – THE TWO SPEED TRUCK MARKET

TIC CEO Tony McMullan

Truck sales continue to be buoyant in Australia particularly in the light and medium duty end of the market according to the latest Truck Industry Council T-Mark sales statistics. While the smaller end of the market is going gangbusters and February sales were up 19.6 per cent overall in the same month last year, has labeled the market as ‘two-speed’.

“For the past two years, Australia’s new truck market has been operating at two very distinct levels, with record – or near record – growth being recorded at the smaller end of the market while the heavy-duty truck segment has seen year-on-year falls in new truck sales,” TIC has said.

TIC reported that 2,522 new trucks were sold in February while year-to-date the total truck market is up 10.3 per cent to the end of February. Heavy duty sales were down four per cent on February 2015 which was in turn down 16.2 per cent on the February 2014 figures with 671 heavy duty trucks sold during the month, which is almost half the sales the industry registered in the heavy sector in February, 2008 prior to the GFC.

“You need to look back to 2011, to the years following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), to find a worst start to the year for heavy-duty sales,” the TIC statement declared. However it was not all doom and gloom with medium-duty again strong registering a 15.5 per cent increase over the same month last year, ticking up 492 sales for the month.

For the year so far to the end of February medium duty is up 10.5 per cent on the same two months in 2015 799 Light-duty trucks were sold in February, a 13.8 per cent gain on the same month last year giving the tiddlers a 10.3 per cent increase year to date. Light-duty van sales recorded strong growth again but coming off a low base the figures look impressive in percentage terms with a 63.7 increase over February last year.

Numerically however the figures bring a sharper focus with 560 van sales for the month, less in volume than both heavy and light duty trucks and only marginally ahead of medium duty sales.

Year-to-date van sales were up 886 units, a 35.5 per cent increase over 2015. The Increasing demand for internet shopping and direct distribution and increasing activity in the largest cities is clearly driving the lighter end of the market while the continued slowing in the mining sector has clearly dented expectations in the heavy duty market. TIC CEO, Tony McMullan said that February sales were solid and a good gain over the previous month but that the heavy-duty market was again disappointing. “This is now a year-on-year trend and one that concerns me greatly.

“With fewer new heavy truck sales, this part of Australia’s truck park will become older, undermining the potential safety, environmental and productivity outcomes that new vehicles bring to our nations truck fleet”. However the reality is that the record heavy-duty sales generated prior to the GFC were artificial to some extent with the mining boom and tremendous growth in the economy leading to massive capital equipment investment.

The drops in heavy-duty sales have been off a very high water mark but TIC is using the numbers to push its proposed National Truck Plan to the government.   TIC says it has presented the plan to Government in a hope that it might offer some targeted incentives that may promote greater sales of newer and there fore what it describes as “safer, cleaner and more productive” heavy vehicles.

Isuzu continued as overall market leader with an extremely strong result registering total sales of 572 units, a 22.3 per cent increase over February 2015 to claim almost a quarter of all truck sales for the month. Its nearest rival Hino was 251 units shy with total sales of 325 units for the month. After two months this year Isuzu with 1009 sales has almost twice the volume and market share of Hino.

In Heavy-duty Kenworth continues to rule the roost leading the market with 150 units for the month, almost line ball with the 149 sold in February 2015. Similarly number two in heavy duty, Volvo moved 124 trucks for the month, up 17 units on the same month last year, showing that the plunge in heavy duty sales is affecting some of the smaller brands including Western Star (down 31.8 per cent) Scania (off 27.3 per cent), Caterpiller (-22 per cent), MAN (-8.3 per cent) and Iveco (-4.7 per cent). Mercedes Benz up 15.1 per cent and Freightliner up 104. 2 percent on February last year offered Daimler some confidence of a turn around in its recent sales performance.