February numbers pick up

The latest truck sales figures do not reinforce the pessimism of those earlier in the year. The Truck Industry Council has released the latest truck sales figures for February and appear to show confidence recovering in the trucking industry. The numbers of trucks sold in February are not going to break any records, but they do show a return to average sales in all market segments. Read more

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Number two in the world

A team of technicians from Australia has landed second place in a global technical competition. The team made up of Australian Isuzu truck dealer technicians took out second place at the 2014 Isuzu World Technical Competition held in Tokyo, Japan. Read more

Isuzu step up to the telematics plate

It’s not until the dominant manufacturers get on board, that people start to take some subjects seriously. We saw it with electronic braking systems. Many truck makers offered it, but when Kenworth announced their EBSS options, the industry sat up and took notice. Now, Isuzu, the other dominant brand in the Australian truck market, have come up with a telematics package which moves away from the narrow ‘only fitted to our brand of trucks’ model chosen by many truck makers. Read more

Truck sales still soft

After a period in which truck sales figures have been depressed, the latest sales numbers for May, published by the Truck Industry Council, are not giving us signs of recovery, and are still down on last year’s figures. After a period where heavy duty showed signs of recovery while medium and light duty remained in the doldrums, the situation now sees all segments staying around the same levels and slightly below where they were 12 months ago. Read more

Ambitious expansion of CNG

AGL Energy have announced plans to open a series of compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling facilities across the East Coast of Australia. The new sites will be both public and on-site refuelling stations and aimed specifically at commercial vehicles.

 

The process is planned to start this year with the first sites opening in the Melbourne area. The roll-out is slated to be situated in key locations to suit freight routes and enable transport companies to utilise the fuel.

 

“The sixth largest country by landmass, Australia’s road transport sector is central to our economy, getting food from farms to homes and connecting businesses to markets,” said AGL Managing Director ,Michael Fraser revealed at the ITTES during the launch. “The transport sector is also the second most energy intensive industry in Australia. A rising proportion of our road transport sector is also fuelled by foreign crude and fuel imports, increasing from 60 percent in 2000 to over 90 percent today. Diversifying our fuel mix and building an alternative fuels industry locally, is part of the solution to developing a more resilient economy.”

 

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The launch saw a number of examples of the kind of vehicles available now, powered by CNG. There were two Isuzu trucks, an FSR and NLR alongside an Iveco Daily with CNG engine. Elsewhere on the Melbourne Showground site Dennis Eagle had unveiled a CNG powered truck with an innovative high density gas storage from Intelligas.

 

AGL Smart CNG is following in the footsteps of a number of similar projects launched in the past. They have had limited success but been hampered by a lack of government financial support for alternative fuels, an increase in the price of natural gas and only a small number of trucks capable of using CNG on the local market.

 

One of the problems is the limited number of tasks for which CNG is appropriate. Fleets of garbage trucks and buses with set routes are ideal but freight vehicle with varying routes need flexibility of fuel supply, something a limited number of CNG filling stations cannot offer.

 

Natural gas is getting traction in the US with subsidies available and many trucks on set local routes. There are 120,000 natural gas powered truck on their roads, probably enough to justify an increase in refuelling infrastructure. Those sot of numbers are unthinkable in Australia for a long time.

 

Until then, we are in a chicken and egg situation. If there were more filling stations, the industry would buy more trucks. If they bought more trucks, the truck manufacturers would bring a wider range in. If there are more CNG trucks on the road, more CNG service stations would spring up. If…if…if…AGL will probably need deep pockets and nerves of steel to get this one up. Good luck to them!

2013 truck sales, Isuzu make it 25 in a row

The sales figures for the truck market in 2013 are in from the Truck Industry Council. As usual there were some winners and some losers but, significantly, last year marked the 25th time Isuzu have come out as market leader.

 

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Looked at from an overall perspective the year was a holding steady year. There was a small decrease in numbers from 2012 but the final result was above 30,000, a number seen as the benchmark for the market, in recent years.

 

Unusually, the normally buoyant heavy duty market saw a fall in the total compared to 2012, but still finished with over 11,000. Medium duty continues to perform relatively strongly, managing to hold sales to just a 0.9 per cent fall.

 

Unfortunately, the light duty segment could not hold its ground and suffered a 5.2 per cent fall in sales numbers. At the same time, the light duty van sector showed an increase of 19.1 per cent.

 

These numbers do suggest some structural change taking place in the market in the last one to two years. However, the dramatic increase in van numbers can be partly explained by the re-rating of the Renault Master taking it over 4.5 tonne GVM and into the the statistics.

 

The first decade of this century saw the medium duty market softening as light duty sales grew by leap and bounds. Now, the pendulum seems to be swinging back in favour of the heavier segment. Heavy duty truck sales, themselves, may be unexciting but can be expected to follow trends in the overall economy as it continues to grow steadily.

 

Achieving 25 straight years at number on in the truck market is not to be sniffed at, Isuzu continue to dominate the light and medium duty markets at 39.9 and 38 per cent market share respectively. Overall at 22.2 per cent of all trucks sold, Isuzu remain in an extremely strong position. The company is constantly looking to develop, improving on the strong relationship with the dealer group and extending the number of models, now up to 160!

 

A number of brands bucked the trends and upped their sales over their 2012 mark, including Scania (now 5.9 per cent of heavy duty), Fuso ( back up over 10 per cent of the total market), Kenworth (up by just 32), Volvo, Freightliner and DAF.

 

These latest figures reflect the new reality of the Australian economy. We are not going to see the booming period of 2005-2008 any time soon. Rationality, or something akin to rationality, has finally returned to the buying decisions of the trucking industry.