Truck sales, like most of the rest of the Australian economy, are booming, with figures for March revealing another surge in truck registrations with first quarter and monthly sales for the top three truck brands ahead of the numbers for the same periods in the all-time record year of 2018.
No one could have predicted the surge in sales this time last year when the industry was in the midst of a pandemic shutdown and facing a potential devastating down turn. The bounce back has amazed just about everyone and the strong growth so far this year, along with equally strong order books bode well for a prolonged period of healthy commercial vehicles sales.
All three truck sectors, light, medium and heavy recorded good growth with light duty in particular enjoying massive gains on the back of demand for home delivery and internet shopping fulfilment, while medium and heavy duty continue to show strong growth thanks to both infrastructure projects and the need to service supply chain and distribution networks.
March saw 3558 new commercial vehicles registered across all sectors over 3.5 tonnes, which is a huge 36.6 per cent rise on the pandemic affected March last year. More significantly it is up 7.9 per cent on the same month in 2019 and is 3.2 per cent up on the March 2018 sales. However the 2021 first quarter total of 8325 is slightly off the first quarter tally in 2018, down 4.0 per cent or 322 units, but is a massive 20.6 per cent up on the first quarter in 2020 and line ball with the 2019 numbers.
Isuzu again led the pack ahead of Hino, Fuso, Kenworth and Mercedes Benz, the latter having a stunning month that saw it outpace Volvo. This time last year Volvo was vying with Kenworth for heavy duty supremacy, however continued supply chain issues saw it and stable mate Mack, along with DAF and MAN, remain the only brands to not record sales growth in March.
In light duty Isuzu was the dominant force again with 492 sales for the month and 40 percent of the 1231 light duty trucks sold in March, while Hino captured 21.4 per cent with 264 sales and Fuso recorded another strong burst with 223 sales to take 18.1 per cent share. Iveco was the only other maker to reach triple figures in light, with its daily based trucks recording 103 sales.
Light Duty sales overall were up 51.8 per cent on the covid affected March 2020 again underlining the bounce back.
In the medium sector Isuzu came under real threat from Hino once more with the former selling 226 trucks, just four more than Hino and its 222 truck tally in March, while Fuso sold 115 trucks for the month. Of the 602 medium duty trucks sold last month, 563 were from the three dominant Japanese brands, with Iveco in fourth selling just 13 units and the once much stronger UD registering only seven sales for the month. Interestingly Hyundai scored four sales in medium for the month with its new offering showing up for the first time.
Heavy-duty saw trucks saw Kenworth again streets ahead, selling 222 trucks in the month, almost double the 112 trucks its arch-rival Volvo managed. More worrying for Volvo was the rise of both Swedish rival Scania and also Mercedes Benz. Scania is starting to overcome supply issues while Benz and its latest gen Actros continues to increase market penetration. Scania sold 107 heavy duty units and Benz 106 for the month. Volvo was 25 per cent down on its 2020 result while Scania was up a whopping 75 per cent and Mercedes was up 26 per cent on 2020.
Heavy Duty’s overall tally of 1035 trucks in March was up 21.5 per cent on March 2020, while the first-quarter saw 2437 heavy trucks registered in Australia, a rise of 9.8 per cent on the first quarter last year.
Behind the leading bunch Isuzu was fifth in heavy, with 102 sales, as its penetration into the top end of the waste and concrete agitator market continues to win it market share, while rival Hino was next best with 65 heavy sales, Mack on 62, DAF with 49 and Fuso with 40. Freightliner sold 34 trucks as its Cascadia slowly wins more buyers in the market. Even Hyundai registered two heavy duty sales with its Xcient.
The light van segment saw a very strong March result, with sales for the month totalling 690 units up 65.3 per cent on the March 2020 while for the first quarter there were 1455 vans sold a rise of just over 23 per cent on the first quarter last year.
Perennial market leader Mercedes Benz was under attack from Ford and its Transit, with the German maker finishing with 178 sales in March, only one clear of the Blue Oval which sold 177 vans. That meant Benz was down 6.1 per cent while Ford was up 88 per cent for the month. Volkswagen also had a strong month with 144 sales as did Renault with 115 vans. The disappointment was Iveco with 30 sales, possibly due to runout of old models prior to the arrival of its Euro 6 Daily.
Whichever way you cut them the commercial vehicle sales figures were very encouraging and with all makers reporting strong order banks, demand and enquiry the year ahead seems to be rosy for the truck and van makers.