Was that a blip or a dip?

Was it a short term drop or has the Australian truck market really reached its peak

By Gary Worrall

Fears the Australian truck market may have reached its peak in June appear to be unfounded, despite July’s drop, following the release of the August sales figures.

While the top of the table look s a little like ‘same old, same old’, the story gets interesting the deeper you delve into the statistics.

Isuzu continues to dominate the Australian commercial vehicle scene with an impressive range of trucks that offer value for money, task capability and high levels of operator comfort, as well as plenty of repeat business courtesy of their customer base.

Equally, Hino and Fuso are continuing to record good figures, thanks also to a good product inventory, although they are struggling to lay a glove on the reigning champion.

Kenworth remains a solid fourth on the ladder, courtesy of their popularity amongst the heavy truck operators, although they are starting to cast a few glances rearward, as they work to stay ahead of the competition.

Reports of a declining order book may hurt the big American as the year winds down, with a swag of European manufacturers starting a late charge that could reshape the Australian market going into 2009.

Chief among these is Italian giant IVECO, who delivered 156 vehicles in August, with an expectation for plenty more to follow.

Mark Strambi, IVECO’s national sales director, has previously acknowledged delivery delays to customers, but with these now resolved, he expects plenty of product to go out the door.

Also enjoying a surge in popularity are Volvo and Mercedes Benz, who posted August sales figures of 96 and 112 units respectively, with Volvo now fourth overall in the heavy truck segment.

The availability of Euro 5-compliant trucks from European manufacturers is also starting to have an impact, with a number of operators servicing the retail sector moving to the higher standard ahead of the proposed Emission Trading Scheme.

While the drop in truck sales in recent months is attributed to a combination of higher interest rates and increased fuel prices, with both of these factors now falling, it will be interesting to see how the market fares in the last four months of the year.

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