Fleet replacement not keeping up with freight growth: TIC

McMullan buoyed by record figures but concerned at safety of ageing fleet

Fleet replacement not keeping up with freight growth: TIC
Tony McMullan


The truck sales record of 2007, followed by the effects of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), has finally been surpassed – 11 years later.

The 2018 year-to-date sales tally stands at 38,173, and with only 1,827 sales now required in December to break the 40,000 mark for the first time ever, that benchmark is also likely to fall.

"Average December sales over the past five years have been 3,020, if this holds true for next month, then the final tally for 2018 should be just over 41,000 heavy vehicle sales," the Truck Industry Council (TIC) says.

Like preceding months, however, November again showed that the sales boom is slowing, with only single-digit growth recorded in heavy duty (up 7.5 per cent to 1,399 for the month compared to November 2017) and light duty trucks (up 7.5 per cent to 1,153) sectors, as opposed to the double digit growth seen for most months in 2018, while the medium duty truck (down 4.6 per cent to 710) and light duty van (down 9.0 per cent to 465) markets receded.

TIC notes softening sentiment in commercial vehicle segments. Read more, here

Overall, total heavy truck sales to the end of November reached 13,158, tracking up 22.4 per cent over those of the same period last year; medium truck sales are at 7,517 for the year, a gain of 13.1 per cent; the sales tally is 11,941 for the light duty truck segment, a 13.0 per cent increase; and 5,557 vans have been delivered to the end of November 2018, up 3.2 per cent.

’Decade of record growth needed’

TIC CEO Tony McMullan lauded the sales figures but is still concerned about the age of the Australian fleet not keeping up with freight task growth.

"It is pleasing to see that the 2007 heavy vehicle sales record has finally fallen," he says. "However, in the eleven years since that benchmark was set, we have witnessed the age of the Australian truck fleet steadily grow older, from 14.4 years in 2007 to 15 years average age in 2017, as the nation’s freight task continues to grow year-on-year.

"Fleet replacement has not kept pace with this growth. It will in fact take more than a decade of record sales for the truck park to return to 14.4 years average age, a number that is twice that of most European countries.

"So why do I mention this, when many might expect celebrations are in order for this new record?

"The answer is simple, the Australian road toll is too high and heavy vehicles are over represented in those crashes and this is partly to do with the fact that the older trucks in our nation’s truck fleet do not feature the advanced safety features found in newer trucks.

"So while TIC and our members are celebrating this new milestone, we are very conscious that there is more work that must be done to improve heavy vehicle road safety in the years ahead."


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