The fact that in this year of bushfires and coronavirus, there is a slow start to truck sales in Australia, is not going to be a surprise to anyone. In many ways, the economy is on hold and uncertainty is undermining the economic outlook. The latest truck sales figures from the Truck Industry Council reflect the level of concern in the business community.
One of the first thing businesses will do when the future is uncertain is hold back on large capital acquisitions. A top end prime mover is something which fits that description well and some operators are obviously starting to delay some of the bigger purchases.
When comparing sales figures for 2020 with 2019, overall numbers are down with total truck sales for the year so far down 14.4 per cent. The aversion to large capital commitments is evidenced by the much larger fall in heavy duty truck sale at 21.2 per cent, when compared to a 14.3 per cent fall in light duty sales and a drop of only 73 sales in the medium duty sector.
The overall drop in heavy duty and slow start to truck sales does not mean that the dynamics have changed. It looks like Volvo will continue to put the pressure on Kenworth for number one status again this year. Numbers are down from last year, but Volvo managed to outsell Kenworth in February, by 137 to 121. This leaves Kenworth just 16 heavy duty truck sales ahead of its Swedish rival for the year.
Elsewhere in the heavier end of the market, brand rivalry sees changes in fortune, so far this year, for a few brands. Scania, normally slow starters annually, have flown out of the blocks to sharply increase market share in the heavy market in 2020, compared to 2019.
The other brand to start 2020 well is Iveco, with an improvement from 3.2 to 5 per cent of the heavy duty figures. This may be due to the new Acco models starting to come down the production line in the company’s Dandenong plant.
The medium duty truck market looks like it is simply business as usual in the sector. Although the trend is down in light duty sales, the traditional rivalry between Isuzu and Hino has seen Isuzu gain market share over their rival in both light and medium duty segments.