Expected February jump in truck sales masks trends
Total is 500 up on previous February, with lighter end still driving gains
Commercial vehicle sales leapt in February, as it has done in previous years, but the rise compared with January was boosted by an extra 514 units on the February 2015 total of 2,018.
And it was also significantly above February 2014’s 2,178.
Truck Industry Council (TIC) T-Mark figures show Isuzu and Renault reaped most of the rewards on both comparisons, reinforcing the dominance of the lighter side of the size scale.
Kenworth reasserted its heavy-duty dominance after a Volvo challenge in December but, at 150 units, that market leader has found it difficult to break out of that level – as has Volvo, which settled again in the low 100s.
And despite its lighter-duty strength, Isuzu’s heavy offering, at 69 units, is now again bobbing around beneath the 100 mark after breaching that late last year.
In medium-duty sales, Isuzu’s February total of 195 was up 39 units on the previous February while Hino’s 150 was also up in that comparison, by 31 units.
The story was much the same in the light-duty segment for Isuzu, which was up 70 units to 312 on the previous February.
Amongst the vans, Renault has held on to top spot at 190 units, three up on Mercedes-Benz after besting the German firm for the first time in January.
This is a serious performance by the French marque, which recorded just 44 sales the previous February.
"For the past two years, Australia’s new truck market has been operating at two very distinct levels, with record, or near record, growth being recorded at the smaller end of the market in vans and light-duty trucks, while the heavy-duty truck segment has seen year on year falls in new truck sales," the TIC notes, describing it as a "true ‘two speed’ market and this trend has very much continued into 2016".
Light-duty van sales hit 560, up 63.7 per cent or 218 vans for the month, a sales record for a February.
Year-to-date van sales are also very strong, with 886 delivered to the end of February, up 35.5 per cent or 232 vehicles over 2015, also a record start to the year.
"February sales were solid and a good gain over the previous month," TIC CEO Tony McMullan says.
"Year-to-date total heavy vehicle sales are up more than 10 percent over those seen in 2015.
"Strong sales in the medium- and light-duty truck segments and spectacular sales for light-duty vans ensure the overall market is ahead of last year.
"However, again it was another disappointing month for the heavy-duty truck segment.
"This is now a year-on-year trend and one that concerns me greatly.
"With fewer new heavy-truck sales, this part of Australia’s truck park will become older, undermining the potential safety, environmental and productivity outcomes that new vehicles bring to our nations truck fleet.
"Government needs to recognise and address this trend with targeted incentives such as those outlined in TIC’s National Truck Plan, if we are to see a greater take up of safer, cleaner and more productive heavy vehicles in this country."