It is too early to tell whether we are seeing a possible structural change in the truck market as the May truck sales figures, released by the Truck industry Council, reflect the disruption caused by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
The fact of the matter is the economic impact has seen the numbers decrease, with total truck sales down 26 per cent on those achieved last year. Last year was a record year and this year was predicted to fall short of last year’s figures anyway, but not to this degree.
In terms of overall market share, most brands are in a similar position to where they were last year. The one exception is probably DAF, which has seen the new range boost its numbers in comparison to the competition.
Looking at the results in the heavy duty segment of the market is markedly different, with some changes difficult to explain as simply the result of a market depressed by coronavirus. Here the fall in sales is much more drastic when compared with May 2019, with a 37.6 per cent fall in heavy duty truck sales year to date.
Again this is comparing the truck market in an economy which is in crisis with one of the real boom months from last year, which pushed numbers much higher than ever before. May 2019 saw five brands top 100 heavy duty sales and two of them, Volvo and Kenworth top 200. These truly were ‘unprecedented’ times, 12 months ago, especially when compared with the current ‘unprecedented’ times.
What makes the May 2020 heavy sales picture even more remarkable is the relegation of Kenworth to third place in the standings. Volvo has been on a long term climb to match and sometimes surpass Kenworth truck sales, but this month Isuzu has snatched the number two spot in heavy duty, by just one truck, 109 to 108.
Although the Isuzu number will most likely turn out to be an anomaly, the heavy duty market seems to now be dominated by joint leaders, Volvo on 18.8 per cent market share for the year so far and Kenworth coming in close behind on 16.7 per cent.
It may well be that in 2020, we are cursed, as the old saying goes, with living in ‘interesting times’ with the chaos caused by the virus, but there may be more to some of the changes taking place, with an ongoing drift towards European prime movers at the heavier end of the truck market.