December Rebound

Truck sales figures for some market segments showed a sharp increase in December, to end the year on a positive note. According to the latest figures released by the the Truck Industry Council, the total number of trucks and large vans sold in Australia in 2015 was 32,003 units, up 1,373 units over 2014. The overall figures reflected the yearlong trend seeing healthy sales at the bottom end of the market with van and light duty truck sales, whilst heavy duty sales continued to struggle throughout the year.

However, December saw a significant blip in heavy duty sales numbers, with 1011 trucks sold, compared to the average of 808 per month, recorded in the previous 11 months. This increase also put a new name in the number one slot for monthly heavy duty truck sales for the first time in many years. Kenworth slipped to second with 153 truck sales, behind Volvo, who put out 184 in the same month.

On a yearly basis, Kenworth still dominate the heavy duty space, with 20.4 per cent of the market and consistently strong numbers throughout the year. Another strong showing by Scania, 132 heavy duty trucks sold in December, brought the Swedish truck maker’s market share up to 7.1 per cent, an unprecedented number in annual figures.

In fact, December truck sales were strong all round. The total number of trucks sold, 3070, was the second best December for sales on record, only eclipsed by, the pre-GFC, December 2007, when 3,509 were sold.

This strong showing in December is in stark contrast to the whole year’s results. With 9,895 heavy duty trucks sold in 2015, it is the first time in five years that the heavies did not break through the 10,000 units mark and were down 25.8 percent, on the segment peak of 2007. Market share in this segment was 32.3 per cent, down from a high of 37 percent just three years ago.

“In all the 2015 finish is about what we expected,” said Tony McMullan, TIC CEO. “Business confidence continues to be low when it comes to the high dollar investments that are required to purchase new heavy trucks, while companies obviously feel more comfortable with the smaller outlays required to upgrade the light end of their vehicle fleets.

“We can only hope that the renewed sales confidence shown by transport businesses in the light truck and van segments will carry over into the heavy truck segment in 2016. With the strong December 2015 result, albeit biased still to the light end of the market, a positive sign is that business confidence continues to grow and we will hopefully see this trend continue into 2016.

“Of course we face a federal election year this year and I note that in past election years we tend to see business taking a cautious approach to new investments, particularly larger dollar expenditure.”

2015 marked the 27th year in which Isuzu was the number one selling truck brand in Australia. The 7442 units sold in 2015 represents 23.3 per cent of the total market. Isuzu came third in heavy duty sales, with 12.2 per cent market share and number one in medium and light duty, at 40.8 per cent and 35.4 per cent market share respectively.

“As many in the industry are aware, 2015 was quite a patchy year for truck sales,” said Phil Taylor, Isuzu Director and COO. “After a slow start in January and February the market began to pick up and held form through to the close with December showing the second best results for the year. This augurs well for an encouraging start to 2016.

“We are, of course, delighted to be in a strong position again at the start of 2016, and we owe it to our customers for their continued support. We have had some great product news stories recently. The launch of our intelligent new N Series last year with its comprehensive safety package, broadened model choice and with particular variants benefitting from impressive power and torque increases represented another high-water mark in the light truck market.”

“Our twin-steer FY range continues to break into new segments of the heavy market, we are seeing strong demand across other vocational applications following our successes with agitator work with these models. We are also building toward the very exciting launch of our new medium-duty product, set for next month.”

Light duty van sales achieved record numbers for the year, at 5515 sold. This is 20.4 per cent up on 2014. These unprecedented figures have seen the light duty van segment rise to become 18 per cent of the total market, compared to 11.6 per cent ten years ago.

One of the newer brands capitalising on this increased demand for vans has been Renault. The French van maker joins Mercedes Benz at the top of the sales charts. Benz still retains 43 per cent of the van segment, with Renault at 24.7 per cent. Fiat and Ford are the other serious players in they segment with 11.1 and 11.9 per cent market share respectively.


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