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Heavy Duty truck sales rebound with 21.5% gain in 2012

A surprise rebound of the Heavy Duty segment, which finished the year with a tally of 11,378 units, or 21.5% above the 2011 result has helped the total truck market reach a 10.4% rise over 2011 sales.

The Truck Industry Council’s T-Mark truck sales figures show a total of 30,745 units were sold last year.

TIC said while any double-­digit growth in the current uncertain economic times is positive, it is worth remembering that 2011’s result was negatively affected by supply issues following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Japanese sourced vehicles still comprise about half of the Australian truck market total, so a gain over 2011 was to be expected,” said Simon Humphries, TIC Chief Technical Officer.

Results from VFACTS, released concurrently with the T-Mark data, show that Australian light vehicle sales have reached a new all time record in 2012, posting in excess of 1.1 million units. However, the high mark for truck sales remains the pre-GFC 2007 market of 38,131 units, or still 24% higher than the 2012 figure.

“The 2012 December figures alone the total truck market of 2,720 units was 8.6% higher than the same month in 2011. By comparison with December sales from recent years, 2012’s was better than those recorded for 2009 to 2011 inclusive, but still 22.5% lower than the best ever December sales recorded in 2007 of 3,509 units,” he said.

Turning to the overall results for the 2012 fourth quarter, T-Mark showed 8,533 truck sales, or 16% higher than the comparable October to December 2011 result of 7,362 units.  The second half of 2012 was 12.7% better than the same period in 2011, indicating that sales have accelerated slightly towards the end of the year, even more than usual seasonal adjustments.

Market Segments:

The full year truck sales result ended up 10.4% higher than 2011, with all segments posting increases, yet as previously mentioned the stand-out performer was the Heavy Duty segment.

The Light Duty Truck Segment for December was 17.7% higher than December 2011, and for the fourth quarter it recorded a 17.6% increase compared with the same period in 2011. This last quarter rebound in the segment saw an earlier deficit turn into a 2.2% gain for the full year, for a final tally of 9,022 units.

The Medium Duty Truck Segment posted a 10.8% decline compared with December 2011, reversing a positive trend in the previous few months. Nevertheless, the growth in this segment across the fourth quarter still represents an increase of 5%. The full year tally for Medium Duty of 6,725 units is 7.2% higher than for 2011, reversing a string of four years of decline, however not keeping up with the total market growth. The slow decline in Medium Duty representation shows it is now just 21.9% of the total truck market, compared with around 26% in 2007 and 2008.

The Heavy Duty Truck Segment has reported a second half to 2012 that is surprising,  especially since the same period in 2011 saw good growth compared with 2010. The December 2012 tally of 1,045 units is 10.6% higher than December 2011, and also exceeded the 2008 December result. The fourth quarter result was 17% higher than for 2011. An encouraging level of growth in this segment, which seems to reflect the return to the HD truck market by some fleets which may have deferred purchases in recent years, as well as continuing demand from the mining sector. Thanks to good growth in the second half, the full year 2012 total of 11,378 units was 21.5% higher than in 2011. The 2012 HD segment second half of the year actually exceeded the 2008 result (and all others since), but was still more than 16% below the second half of the 2007 record year.

The Light Duty Van Segment posted a strong gain in December 2012, with 303 units sold being 24.2% higher than the same month in 2011. Overall fourth quarter sales are a significant 32% higher than for 4th quarter 2011. The recent strong gains allowed a slower start for the year to be overcome, and ending with a tally of 3,389 units for a 6.8% growth vs 2011.

An initial TIC forecast for the 2013 total truck market is around a 5% increase on the 2012 result.


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