The Truck Industry Council (TIC) says that although a gloomy backdrop of turmoil in overseas markets Australia’s economy is growing with a low interest and greater access to low cost finance. This is despite negative predictions in the last six months predicting the mining boom may have already peaked.
“With this backdrop, it is encouraging that the March 2013 total T-Mark truck market continues the recent trend of growth compared to the same period in the previous year,” says TIC.
“The March 2013 truck sales of 2,564 units were the best post-GFC for any March, with a modest 0.7 per cent gain over March 2012, and the first quarter result of 6,777 units is similarly the best since 2008.
“This growth is positive news, however there are four years in recent history that have posted higher first quarter truck sales, indicating that we still have some way to go to reach for the record books.
“The first quarter result of 6,777 units is 4.0 per cent higher than the same period in 2012, and 18 per cent less than the peak figures recorded in 2008 when the first quarter yielded 8,267 units,” says TIC.
TIC says the March and first quarter sales figures continue a recent trend that sees the Heavy Duty and Medium Duty segments post healthy growth, while the Light Duty segments (both trucks and vans) are weaker.
The Heavy Duty truck segment showed a March total of 900 units, up 7 per cent on March 2012, while the segment continues to indicate reasonably strong growth across the first quarter, with 2,374 units, or a 10.3 per cent gain on 2012. This result places the HD segment just 100 units behind the same period in 2007, yet still 16.6 per cent lower than the record first quarter of 2008.
The Medium Duty segment has surprised most market observers in 2013 so far, with a March total of 595 units (up 15.8 per cent on March 2012), and a first quarter result of 1,556 units (up 11.5 per cent). This represents a reversal of a long-term trend that has seen the MD segment on a decline relative to the other segments.
Combined with some gains achieved in the same segment for 2012, it remains to be seen whether the MD segment growth will continue.
Light Duty (those between 3,500 kg and 8,000 kg GVM) truck sales perhaps reflect the lack of confidence in the retail sector, with a March result of 737 units 12.8 per cent lower than in March 2012. This monthly result turned early growth in the segment into a 2.6 per cent decline for the first quarter, with 2,018 sales.
Similarly, the Light Duty Vans (those between 3,500 kg and 8,000 kg GVM) posted a decline in sales for March, with a total of 332 units down by 4.0 per cent compared to March 2012. The first quarter total of 829 units is down by 7.8 per cent compared with the same period in 2012.
TIC Chief Executive Officer, Tony McMullan, noted the bias in truck market growth towards the larger vehicles.
“It is encouraging to see an overall growth in the truck market, with both the Heavy Duty and Medium Duty segments posting double digit growth rates for the quarterly comparison. It is clear that many buyers of larger capacity trucks are returning to the new vehicle market after several years of extending the useful lives of vehicles in their existing fleet ”, Mr. McMullan said.
“However, the decline in sales in the light duty truck and van segments seems at odds with the record numbers that have recently been posted for light commercial vehicle (up to 3,500 kg GVM) sales. The Truck Industry Council and its members with products in these segments will be watching the next few months with interest, to see if the Light Duty sales catch up with the stronger consumer sentiment numbers being posted this year.”