Truck deliveries on the rebound

Figures bounce back in the face of natural disasters as the battle between makers continues to rage

By Gary Worrall | March 9, 2011

Australians may have had their fill of flood, fire and locusts in the opening two months of 2011, but that has not stopped truck deliveries from continuing to grow month by month.

The release of the T-Mark truck delivery data for February shows another increase in the number of new trucks entering service and while the top sellers have not changed there has been plenty of improvement among the middle order.

Also having an impact on deliveries, in both January and February, is the extensive flooding in Queensland that saw manufacturers, dealers and body builders suffer either stock losses or significant delays in completing orders.

Despite all of these dramas, Isuzu and Hino continue to battle for supremacy as the two top selling truck brands in the country, while Kenworth also continues to hold sway as the brand of choice in the heavy duty market.

Although there is no change at the top of the respective market segments, the battle for the hearts, minds and most importantly wallets of truck buyers rages unabated, with Western Star rebounding from having its Brisbane dealer shut down due to flood damage to deliver 69 trucks in February, cementing second place to Kenworth in the heavy duty market.

Also eyeing off second in the heavy duty segment are Volvo, Iveco and Mack, delivering 70 units, 60 units and 66 units respectively placing the three companies in a tight battle for third position and leaving Volvo just six units short of Western Star.

This situation is reversed in the outright order however with Iveco, thanks to a strong performance in the medium duty market with both the Acco and EuroCargo, handing over 108 trucks for the month.

Isuzu managed to claw back the ground lost to Hino in January when it was outsold by almost two trucks to one in the medium duty segment, delivering 172 trucks against Hino’s 113, leaving Isuzu with a segment lead of 13 units and the promise of a classic battle over the coming months.

Fuso also enjoyed a significant leap over its January figures, although this was partly a correction with a mix of previously undelivered trucks as well as reflecting strong sales at the end of 2010.

In the van sector, Mercedes-Benz remains unchallenged at the head of the leader board courtesy of long term contracts with Australia Post nationally and emergency services around the country preferring Sprinters as the basis for ambulance fleets.

Despite losing the Australia Post contract to Benz, Ford is still the second most popular van with the Transit range, while Fiat and Volkswagen battle for the final podium spot, ahead of Iveco and Renault, although the French manufacturer is looking for an improved result later in 2011 with the arrival of new models.

After registering the first deliveries in January, both CAT and Hyundai are now seeking to consolidate their respective positions in the market, with CAT handing over another six trucks, while Hyundai finalised 13 contracts, to move ahead of Volkswagen’s Crafter cab-chassis in the light duty truck segment.

With Hyundai tipped to name a Brisbane dealer in the coming weeks, opening another major market to their products, the Korean manufacturer is expected to become an even bigger player, particularly with the arrival of Euro 5-compliant product in time for May’s Brisbane Truck Show.

While the newcomers to the market are beginning to have an impact, PACCAR’s European brand DAF continues to struggle, with just eight deliveries for the month, despite offering a quality product, particularly for urban fleet operations where it has proven popular in container transport operations.

Scania is another sleeping giant that appears as though it is stirring into life, delivering 33 trucks in January, outselling Mercedes-Benz and MAN, coincidentally the only other manufacturers to offer a V8 option, and just two units behind premium American brand Freightliner which is expecting strong results from the recently released Coronado range.

Despite the big improvements compared to the January results, the market is approximately 20 percent lower than initial predictions, although the impact of the Queensland and Victoria floods and Western Australia fires means this could correct itself in the March results.

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