September commercial vehicle sales show promise

Best comparable month this decade sees trucks leading market growth, though heavy-duty segment still lags

September commercial vehicle sales show promise
Tony McMullan wants action on the ageing heavy-duty fleet.


Commercial vehicle sellers can be forgiven for daring to dream as sales rise by more than 1,000 units for the second successive month, according to the Truck Industry Council’s (TIC) T-Mark figures.

Sleeping slightly easier could well be helped by the best September result this decade of 2,865 units.

With three-quarters of the calendar year gone, it can be argued that sales have been on a sustained growth path, with June’s end-of-financial-year outlier figure of 3,447 and July’s fall to 2,654 arguably aberrant.

With van sales largely treading water, trucks are making the headway.

In a welcome return to form, heavy-duty trucks saw 49 more units sold at 892, up from two more in August.

Though good growth was the preserve of top six firms in Kenworth, Volvo, Isuzu Mack and Scania, Dennis Eagle shrugged of August’s four units to record a year high of 15.

It was a similar but less-emphatic story in medium-duty trucks, at 622, up from 612 but still below June’s 657.

The big move here was Hino’s 48 unit rise to a year-high 235, while Fuso and UD fell away.

The light-duty segment reflected the total figures, with 915 sales second only to June’s 1,047.

Isuzu was up to 337 from 291with Fuso, Hino, and Iveco, in particular, following suit.

On a year-by-year comparison, sales have a reasonable trucks tale to tell except for heavy-duty vehicles.

There, this month’s performance serves only to underline the heavy sector’s difficulties, marking its fourth year of decline in succession since 2012’s 1,044, itself something of a peak from the previous two years’ 882 and 653 respectively.

The same cannot be said of medium-duty trucks, which have made steady progress this decade from 2011’s 504 units sold.

Perhaps boosted by the growth in heavier vans, the light-duty trucks segment is making a concerted charge at the 1,000 unit mark after much of the decade spent in the 700s.

The TIC notes total Australian truck sales for the first nine months of 2015 were 23,388 units, or 4.8 per cent above the tally achieved for the same period in 2014. 

"The growth shown this year was mirrored by the individual month result for September that posted growth over September 2014 of 4.4 per cent," it says. 

"The third quarter of this calendar year was also 3.6 per cent higher than third quarter 2014."

It adds that the July-September quarter "saw total T-Mark sales of 8,248 units, this was 296 units more than for the third quarter of 2014.

"It is worth noting however, that this result lags that of the record third quarter result achieved in the pre GFC year of 2007 when 10,020 units were sold, by 17.7 per cent.

"In fact, 2015’s third quarter was beaten by four other years in the past decade."

TIC continues to have serious concern about the heavy-duty market.

The nine-month 2015 tally came to 7,221 units, which is the worst result since 2011.

The third quarter total of 2,579 units was the fourth worst in the past 12 years and lags the record third quarter of 2007 by a worrying 26.0 per cent.

With that in mind, the organisation hopes the will for political change will extend to the tackling the nation’s ageing heavy duty truck fleet.

"I hope that our new Prime Minister and his revised cabinet will consider financial incentives, such as those outlined in TIC’s National Truck Plan and provide the necessary business confidence for transport companies to make the larger dollar capital investment decisions that are required to renew their heavy duty truck fleets and in doing so move Australia towards a younger, safer, environmentally cleaner and more productive national truck fleet," TIC CEO Tony McMullan says.


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