Heavy Duty truck sales rebound with 21.5% gain in 2012

A surprise rebound of the Heavy Duty segment, which finished the year with a tally of 11,378 units, or 21.5% above the 2011 result has helped the total truck market reach a 10.4% rise over 2011 sales.

The Truck Industry Council’s T-Mark truck sales figures show a total of 30,745 units were sold last year.

TIC said while any double-­digit growth in the current uncertain economic times is positive, it is worth remembering that 2011’s result was negatively affected by supply issues following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Japanese sourced vehicles still comprise about half of the Australian truck market total, so a gain over 2011 was to be expected,” said Simon Humphries, TIC Chief Technical Officer.

Results from VFACTS, released concurrently with the T-Mark data, show that Australian light vehicle sales have reached a new all time record in 2012, posting in excess of 1.1 million units. However, the high mark for truck sales remains the pre-GFC 2007 market of 38,131 units, or still 24% higher than the 2012 figure.

“The 2012 December figures alone the total truck market of 2,720 units was 8.6% higher than the same month in 2011. By comparison with December sales from recent years, 2012’s was better than those recorded for 2009 to 2011 inclusive, but still 22.5% lower than the best ever December sales recorded in 2007 of 3,509 units,” he said.

Turning to the overall results for the 2012 fourth quarter, T-Mark showed 8,533 truck sales, or 16% higher than the comparable October to December 2011 result of 7,362 units.  The second half of 2012 was 12.7% better than the same period in 2011, indicating that sales have accelerated slightly towards the end of the year, even more than usual seasonal adjustments.

Market Segments:

The full year truck sales result ended up 10.4% higher than 2011, with all segments posting increases, yet as previously mentioned the stand-out performer was the Heavy Duty segment.

The Light Duty Truck Segment for December was 17.7% higher than December 2011, and for the fourth quarter it recorded a 17.6% increase compared with the same period in 2011. This last quarter rebound in the segment saw an earlier deficit turn into a 2.2% gain for the full year, for a final tally of 9,022 units.

The Medium Duty Truck Segment posted a 10.8% decline compared with December 2011, reversing a positive trend in the previous few months. Nevertheless, the growth in this segment across the fourth quarter still represents an increase of 5%. The full year tally for Medium Duty of 6,725 units is 7.2% higher than for 2011, reversing a string of four years of decline, however not keeping up with the total market growth. The slow decline in Medium Duty representation shows it is now just 21.9% of the total truck market, compared with around 26% in 2007 and 2008.

The Heavy Duty Truck Segment has reported a second half to 2012 that is surprising,  especially since the same period in 2011 saw good growth compared with 2010. The December 2012 tally of 1,045 units is 10.6% higher than December 2011, and also exceeded the 2008 December result. The fourth quarter result was 17% higher than for 2011. An encouraging level of growth in this segment, which seems to reflect the return to the HD truck market by some fleets which may have deferred purchases in recent years, as well as continuing demand from the mining sector. Thanks to good growth in the second half, the full year 2012 total of 11,378 units was 21.5% higher than in 2011. The 2012 HD segment second half of the year actually exceeded the 2008 result (and all others since), but was still more than 16% below the second half of the 2007 record year.

The Light Duty Van Segment posted a strong gain in December 2012, with 303 units sold being 24.2% higher than the same month in 2011. Overall fourth quarter sales are a significant 32% higher than for 4th quarter 2011. The recent strong gains allowed a slower start for the year to be overcome, and ending with a tally of 3,389 units for a 6.8% growth vs 2011.

An initial TIC forecast for the 2013 total truck market is around a 5% increase on the 2012 result.


Truck Industry Council president Phil Taylor

TIC warns freight task needs government support

Truck Industry Council president Phil Taylor
Truck Industry Council president Phil Taylor predicts 40,000 units a year will be sold in Australia.

TIC president Phil Taylor was encouraged by the positive numbers evident in 2012’s truck sales however he said the government will need to give operators incentives to buy new trucks to meet the forcast freight task otherwise freight companies will be forced to keep their older trucks just to have enough vehicles on the road.

Taylor said the 2012 truck sales increase over 2011 exceeded most expectations expressed at the beginning of the year.

“Frankly, the overall growth of the Heavy Duty segment relative to the others is quite surprising, and is good for the industry, especially for the local truck manufacturers, all of which compete mainly in the HD segment,” he said.

“While part of the gains can be explained by the return of some fleets to purchasing new capital, and easing of restrictions and interest rates in the financial sector, the resources boom appears to be keeping sales quite strong in the North and West.

“Meanwhile, it is difficult to predict what truck sales will do in 2013. Most analysts predict another interest rate cut or two from the Reserve bank, which should allow finance for new capital equipment to remain very competitive. However, other forecasts for the retail, housing and a probable slowing in the resources sector’s growth could have a possible adverse effect on truck sales.”

He warned we must be aware, however, that for the road transport sector to manage the government’s forecast road freight task in the coming years, further growth in truck sales is necessary, firstly recovering to 2007 levels within the next couple of years, and beyond.

“To stimulate the market to these levels may require the introduction of suitable government incentives to buy new trucks, with their vastly improved productivity, safety and environmental performance,” he said.

“Otherwise, freight companies will be forced to keep their older trucks just to have enough vehicles on the road, and that presents Australia with a significant fleet average age problem which results in a poor environmental and safety outcome. I’m not saying we can expect to see it all happen in 2013, however TIC projections anticipate that truck sales need to increase to well beyond 40,000 units per annum within just a few years, just to keep up with demand for moving goods, ” Taylor said.

An initial TIC forecast for the 2013 total truck market is around a 5% increase on the 2012 result.


WMC gets new CEO


WMC Group, the Australian distributor of Higer Bus, JAC Trucks and LDV Vans has announced the appointment of Neil Bamford as CEO of the organisation, effective January 1, 2013.

Bamford will take over the management reigns of WMC Group from Jason Pecotic, who remains a director and shareholder of the company and will continue to work within the WMC Group.

According to Jason Pecotic, Neil Bamford brings more than 25 years experience in project management, finance, corporate strategy and governance to the role of CEO of WMC Group, and his experience will be vital in steering the company through its next major growth phase.

“WMC Group has grown rapidly over the past five years and the board felt it was vital to bring someone with Neil’s management expertise and knowledge into the business to ensure the company is well positioned for the future,” said Pecotic.

“Neil’s extensive knowledge of management and finance in particular will be invaluable as WMC Group continues its expansion and growth trajectory.”

In a career spanning more than a quarter of a century Neil Bamford has worked with leading finance and investment organisations including Allco Finance, Societe Generale, Babcock and Brown and AMP. He has also worked with resource giant BHP and spent four years with major consulting group, Price Waterhouse Coopers.

He brings extensive experience in people management, especially team leadership, along with a trusted and respected reputation with clients and colleagues. This along with strong communication skills and the ability to develop collaborative relationships at all levels makes Neil Bamford the perfect fit as the CEO at WMC Group.

“Taking the helm of WMC at this point in its development is an exciting opportunity with the ability to put into place new structures and policies to continue its growth,” said Bamford.

“Jason Pecotic and his team have done a great job in taking WMC Group from a start-up position to where it is now, Australia’s leading importer of non-route buses, a strong presence in the light duty truck market and soon to be a key player in the commercial van market.

“It is a remarkable effort considering it has been a little over five years since WMC’s inception and I look forward to continuing the work Jason has begun,” he said.

“Our first major challenge is the launch and introduction of the LDV range of commercial vans and people movers to the Australian market in late January,” he added.

WMC Group is based in Sydney at its corporate head office and distribution centre in the south western suburb of Milperra which has served both its JAC and Higer operations since 2010 and has been adding additional staff while building its truck , bus and commercial vehicle dealer networks around the country.

In 2011, Higer became the most popular non-route bus on the Australian market and has recorded staggering growth in the Australian market over the past five years.

JAC or Jianghuai Automobile Co., Ltd used WMC Group to launch its range of light duty trucks into the Australian market in 2012 establishing a brand that is quickly finding a niche in the competitive market down under.

JAC has been the leading exporter of light duty trucks in China for the past eight years, shipping its vehicles to more than 100 countries throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.

LDV vans and people movers will arrive in Australia from late January and are set to give the fiercely contested van market a shake up with European design, styling and engineering at a highly competitive price.

Beware of spam emails from TMR

Queensland Transport and Main Roads is warning customers about fraudulent emails which contain a spam attachment.

Acting Director General Neil Scales said the emails looked like they were sent by the department and contained a “confirmation receipt” in a .ZIP file attachment.

 “These are spam and have not been sent by us,” Scales said.

“We recommend you take normal security precautions with your email account and do not open the file.

“We are investigating the issue and thank customers for bringing this to our attention today.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and confusion this spam may have caused.”

Scales recommended customers followed up their transactions or important emails with a phone call or visited Customer Service Centres while the issue was being addressed.

“We value our customers and your business is important to us,” he said.

“We are doing everything we can to resolve this technical issue.”

He said the department would let customers know through the website and social media when the issue had been resolved.

For more information on ways to contact the department, visit www.tmr.qld.gov.au.

ATA publish guidelines for heavy vehicle side underrun protection devices

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has published a new technical advisory procedure providing general construction guidelines for heavy vehicle side underrun protection devices that comply with the UN ECE international standards for motor vehicles.

Side underrun protection devices protect road users such as pedestrians and cyclists from slipping sideways under the wheels of trucks and trailers, and can also improve the aerodynamic performance of heavy vehicles.

The advisory procedure was developed by the ATA’s Industry Technical Council, and provides designs and installation diagrams for the construction of steel, aluminium or fibre composite side under run protection devices compatible with most trailer designs.

ATA National Policy Manager David Coonan said the purpose of the advisory is to encourage the use of side under run protection devices by making it easier for trailer builders and operators to find best practice technical information about how to build them “Cyclists and other small road users can find themselves in danger if they come in too close to the side of a heavy vehicle, particularly if they move into the space between wheel sets,” he said.

“By encouraging the use of side under run protection devices, we can improve safety for these road users as well as potentially reducing fuel consumption.”

TNT awarded Top Employer

One of the world’s leading international Human Resources certification programs has awarded TNT Express Australia the title of ‘top employer’.

The Netherlands-based CRF Institute presented the Top Employer award at a ceremony in Sydney, making TNT Express one of the first Australian companies to achieve the prestigious certification.

CRF Institute global accounts director Johann Labuschagne said the Top Employers certification was given to TNT Express

following an extensive independent audit of the company’s HR practices, policies and employee offerings.

“Our ratings are reviewed and updated annually to maximise their relevance for participating organisations, their staff and stakeholders.”

“Only companies that offer best-in-class conditions for their employees earn the certification,” said Mr Labuschagne.

TNT Express has undertaken several recent initiatives to raise its profile in the employment marketplace, including its Women in Transport campaign to attract more women employees to the business.

TNT Express HR Director Sue Davies said the Top Employer certification was recognition of the company’s long-term efforts to make it a great place to work.

“TNT Express Australia has been recognised in a number of ways for its contribution towards making its people successful, but the Top Employer accreditation is particularly gratifying,” Mrs Davies said.

Bob Black, TNT Express Managing Director Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands (left) and Susan Davies, TNT Express Director Human Resources with CRF Institute Global Accounts Director Johann Labuschagne (centre) and the Top Employer award.

“Attracting, developing and retaining quality people has long been TNT Express’ aim, and Top Employers recognises this.”

The CRF Institute has operations in 13 countries on five continents, and has run Top Employers since 1991.

The certification is achieved by auditing 11 key HR areas and assessing the company against five core criteria: primary benefits, secondary benefits and working conditions, training and development, career development and culture management.

A company must meet or exceed 60 per cent of the highest overall score in order to receive Top Employer certification.

Jost continues to distribute Jost approved cylinders in Australia

Jost Australia wishes to advise all its loyal customers that they will be continuing to  distribute the full range of JOST Cylinders in Australia.

While Jost Australia’s parent company Jost Werke recently announced the acquisition of the Edbro Cylinder company this will not affect Jost Australia’s position in the local market.

Jost Australia will continue to market its approved Cylinders under the Jost Hydraulics banner and look forward to increasing its already significant market share in the future.

For further information on the Jost Hydraulics products please feel free to contact Jost Australia on 1800 811 487.


Upgrades to deadly Bruce Highway will be fast-tracked

Construction on Section A (Cooroy to Curra) of the Bruce Highway will be fast-tracked to start in in the middle of next year.

The $790 million upgrade of Section A between Cooroy to Curra involves the upgrade and realignment of approximately 13 kilometres of the Bruce Highway south of Gympie and will be funded on a 50-50 basis by the Federal Labor Government and the Queensland LNP Government.

At just over three quarters of a billion dollars, this is a big project that will deliver smoother and safer driving conditions for the 20,000 motorists who use this section of the Highway every day.

Section B, which was officially finished this week was delivered both on time and significantly under budget.

The Federal Government is investing more than $3.1 billion into the Bruce Highway.

The $790 million upgrade will deliver:

  • Duplication of the existing two lane highway between the existing Cooroy Southern Interchange and the proposed Cooroy Northern Interchange;
  • Construction of a new four lane highway to be located west of the existing Bruce highway between the proposed Cooroy Northern Interchange and Sankeys Road;
  • An upgrade of the Cooroy Southern Interchange;
  • Construction of a new grade separated Cooroy Northern Interchange;
  • Replacement or the provision of new bridges/structures at six locations; and
  • Provision of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) consistent with the Managed Motorways Policy.

Report highlights effectiveness of road safety engineering treatments

Traffic accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians can be reduced by 70 to 85% according to a new report released this week by Austroads.

The report examined the effectiveness of road safety engineering treatments. The treatments, which included the use of profile line marking, regulatory signs and median islands, were given a “Crash Reduction Factor” based on results from recent road safety studies.

It was developed to fill in the knowledge gaps as previous Austroads research identified that there is a lack of reliable information regarding the effectiveness of different road safety engineering treatments.

It found by changing partial control to fully controlled right-turns at traffic signals, installing roundabouts, and by adding barriers and signage at railway level crossings accidents were reduced by 70%. For pedestrians installing a pedestrian overpass reduces the chance of an accident by whopping 85%.

The report also showed the use of overt speed camera’s provided a crash reduction figure between 30-40% while reducing speed limits reduced risk up to 20%. It however showed increasing speeds, especially from 100 to 110kmh, increased the risk by 25%.

It also indicated the use of profile line markings (such as rumble strips) can reduce run off road crashes by as much as 40% and profile markings were also shown to reduce head-on collisions by 30% when used to mark the centreline of a road.

Sealing shoulders was found to have a crash reduction factor of 30%, with one of the individual Australian studies referenced in the report finding as much as a 60% reduction in crashes when an already existing shoulder is sealed.

The study also examined the effect of extending right-hand turning lanes, but was unable to draw a conclusion due to a lack of recent significant research in this area. Extending right-hand turning lanes ensures that heavy vehicles do not jut out into the traffic.

Regulatory signs were shown to have crash reduction factors of between 15 and 60 per cent, with the installation of four way stop signs at X intersections and the banning of U-turns the most effective options in reducing crash factors.

A full copy of the report can be viewed on the Austroads website.

Major changes to Intelligent Access Program

Major changes are happening to the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) to make it more relevant to transport operators. The IAP is a sophisticated big brother technology that makes sure heavy vehicles go where they are supposed to on the road network but has been openly criticised for its structure and pricing mechanisms.

Mr Chris Koniditsiotis, the Chief Executive Officer of TCA, said changes are under way after New South Wales Transport Minister Duncan Gay asked TCA ways to respond to concerns raised by some within the transport industry about the flexibility and cost of the IAP.

Mr Koniditsiotis said the Entry Options initiative opens the door for transport operators to present their existing In-Vehicle Units (IVUs) for assessment by TCA, for use in the IAP and TCA are working with IAP Service Providers to develop flexible pricing options – for transport operators that occasionally load to Higher Mass Limits (HML).

“The industry has told us that – for many operators – only a small proportion of vehicle trips are loaded to HMl [so] the occasional productivity gains from HML are therefore not always

sufficient to cover the monthly cost of IAP enrolment,” he said.

“However, transport operators are looking to have the capability to load to HML – when they need to do so.”

He said whileworking to make the IAP more flexible and cost effective for transport operators, none of this detracts from the assurances that the IAP provides to road managers, including Local Governments.

“In short, through the Entry Options initiative and the development of flexible pricing options, a greater number of transport operators will have the opportunity to benefit from the higher productivity access entitlements enabled through the IAP, while also meeting the needs of governments and road managers,” he said.