Prime Mover Magazine

Truck sales solid in 2019 as heavy vans break record

A disappointing finish to the 2019 calendar year in truck sales has not been able to curb what has still been a strong showing in heavy vehicle orders regardless of rising economic uncertainty and a Federal election.

Although last year marked a drop of 8.8 per cent across truck and heavy van sales on 2018, 2019 will be remembered for a respectable showing of 37,960 units sold according to Truck Industry Council figures released this week, making it the third best calendar year on record for heavy vehicles.

Great sales in the first half of the year have been identified as a contributing factor to positive result despite a significant slowing of the market from July onward.

While all truck segments were down compared to last year’s results, Heavy Van sales, however, bucked the overall market trend, setting a new sales record in 2019.

A poor fourth quarter showing down 14.2 per cent on the equivalent period in 2018 was offset by what the TIC considers spectacular sales in December of last mile vans which rose 36.1 for the month.

In the Heavy Duty truck segment sales dropped 70 units in December in contrast to the previous year amid a declining trend for the category.

Even so Heavy Duty commercial vehicles maintained the largest part of the market accounting, according to the TIC, for 33.5 per cent of the heavy vehicles cold in 2019, marginally ahead of the Light Duty segment with its 30.3 per cent share.

For Medium Duty trucks sales peaked at a modest 560 units in December, a decline of 133 on the previous year (-19.2 per cent).

Across 2019 the segment was down on the previous year 9.7 per cent for a tally of 799 units. When compared to the segment peak of 9,923 Medium Duty trucks in 2007 the decline is significant.

Following record sales in 2018, the Light Duty category softened by 12.5 per cent in 2019 ending on 11,487 units sold.

The 2019 fourth quarter result of 2,920 LD Trucks was well down on the 3,575 trucks sold in the final quarter of 2018 (-18.3 percent).

As the Light Truck marketshare is slowly eroded by increasing Van sales, which recorded a high mark sales with 528 deliveries for the month, representing an impressive increase of 36.1 percent (140 vans), over December 2018 and bettering the previous best December result, that of 2017, by 29 LD Van deliveries.

The fourth quarter total of 1,526 unit sales was up on quarter four 2018 by 19.1 percent (245 units), however fell just short of breaking the fourth quarter Van sales record set in 2017 by only nine vans.

TIC Chief Executive Officer of TIC Tony McMullan said he was pleased to see the final heavy vehicle sales numbers for 2019 ended up as the third best on record and that van sales set a new Australian record.

"However the news was not all good, with significant softening of the market in the second half of 2019 a concern as we head into a new year and a new decade in 2020," he said.

"In particular, all truck segments saw fewer sales in 2019 compared with 2018. I was pleased to see that the December result was better than forecast, noting that this better than expected result was largely due to some spectacular heavy van and not truck sales.

"Hopefully we will see a resurgence of truck sales in 2020 and the potential for a strong result as we enter a new decade.”

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