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.
January trucks sales figures were looking ominous for all truck manufacturers, but the market leaders managed to hold their own, while the smaller players lost sales. This latest set of sales results shows a return to a semblance of normality. With the buffeting in the market in recent years, the truck manufacturers are now resigned to a relatively flat market with some small level of growth.
As usual, Isuzu tops the sales numbers and maintains its market share in each segment. Standing at number three in heavy duty, while holding fast to number one in both medium and light duty is a familiar situation for the Japanese truck importer. The introduction in the last couple of years of the twin steer product means the only part of the market where it is still not competitive is with the heavy duty prime mover, the company has a solution for, just about, every other specification.
Kenworth’s grip on the heavy duty truck market remains strong. In fact, market share, so far in 2015, is up on last year’s level, at 23.6 percent, compared to 20 per cent in 2014. Improved systems at the assembly plant in Bayswater mean the manufacturing set-up can react more quickly and efficiently to changes in demand for trucks.
North American rivals Western Star have managed an improvement in market share, against the trend, over last year. With the trucks being manufactured in the US, pricing is subject to a major influence from currency fluctuations. The falls in the Aussie dollar take away much of the price advantage the American manufactured product have when the dollar to dollar rate approaches parity making the Star numbers all the more surprising.
Medium duty numbers are down throughout the range but have recovered somewhat from a flat January. Market shares remain very similar to the past results, suggesting a general slowing in the overall demand, but no changes in the level of competition between the brands.
In the light duty segment of the market, all of the brands appear to have had a good February, with numbers up all round. However, this only serves to make up for a dismal January, the overall sales for the year are still down on those at this point in 2014. This points to a lack of confidence early in the year causing some to delay buying decisions, but if the sales continue as they have this last month, normality has resumed.
Although the Mercedes Benz brand continue to hold the whip hand in the light duty van market, the dynamic performer in 2015 has been Ford. Van sales dipped for the blue oval brand for a couple of years, but are undergoing a bit of resurgence with 2015 sales, so far, nearly double those at the same time last year.