By T&TA editor Allan Whiting




Here at T&TA we have been crunching the numbers and have reflected on the prophecies of doom coming from the Truck industry peak body – the TIC.

There’s a general feeling among heavy truck sellers that the top end of the market is in decline and some industry observers are suggesting that there’s evidence of a massive shift in buying patterns.

I crunched some truck and heavy van (3.5-8.0 tonnes GVM) new sales figures since the beginning of this century. While there’s a definite change in the mix at the lighter end of the market and the heavy end is down slightly, the heavy truck sales figures aren’t catastrophic.

Since 2000 we can break down the last 15 years of truck sales into three definite periods: 2000-2003; 2004-2008 and 2009-2015.

In 2000-2003 the truck market totalled 19,000-23,000 per annum; in 2004-2008 it jumped astronomically to 32,000-38,000 per annum and in 2009-2015 it sat in the 28,000-32,000 bracket.

An obvious positive influence in the good years was the resources boom and post-2008 the delayed effects of the GFC pulled things back, despite Government incentives to counter it. However, even in 2009 the truck market totalled nearly 29,000 trucks.

Looking at the percentages of market share for different truck weight categories is also interesting.

In the 2000-2003 period the percentages of the overall new truck market were: heavy duty (HD), 29-35%; medium duty (MD), 28-29%; light duty (LD), 36-34% and Vans, 7-6%. In the 2004-2008 period HD scored 32-35%; MD, 28-26%; LD, 28-33% and Vans, 7-12%. In the 2009-2015 period HD picked up 30-37%; MD, 25-21%; LD, 30-29% and Vans, 12-17%.

What’s obvious from those figures is that the heavy truck share of the market hasn’t changed markedly over the 2000-2015 period; the medium truck and light truck segments are down by around six percentage points each and vans have more than doubled their share.

Percentages can be deceiving, so if we look at total sales numbers the average new truck sales per annum across the 2000-2003 were: HD, 6400; MD, 6600; LD, 6700 and Vans, 1300. In the 2004-2008 period the sales per annum averaged: HD 11,250; MD, 9000; LD, 10,600 and Vans, 4200. In the 2009-2015 period the sales per annum averaged: HD, 9900; MD, 6800; LD, 9900 and Vans, 4300.

So, the actual numbers show that HD trucks spiked during the resource-boom years and have dropped back post-2009, but are still averaging 50-percent above 2000-2003 sales figures.

MD trucks are static after the boom, back to where they were in 2000-2003.

Today’s LD trucks are up about a third in actual sales numbers compared with the 2000-2003 average and heavy van sales figures spiked during the boom years and have stayed there.

Van sales figures have more than tripled since 2000-2003.

If there are lessons from this Truck Industry Council data it’s that HD sales are healthy enough; MDs aren’t a growth segment; LDs are looking fine and anyone in the market who doesn’t have a heavy van – that’s all of the Japanese makers – is kissing goodbye to the big growth segment.

Multi-national Daimler is happy with its light-end products, having Fuso in LD, and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter dominating the van market, but you’d expect Isuzu’s and Hino’s local executives to be pressuring Japan for a van.