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Prime Mover Magazine

Truck sales strong for 2017

Truck manufacturer and component supplier group, the Truck Industry Council (TIC), said Australian truck and heavy van sales for 2017 totalled 36,825 units, up a significant 3,861 units – 11.7 per cent – over 2016, according to data published 3 January 2018.

The final tally was reportedly the best result for new truck sales since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), but fell shy of the 2007 Australian market peak of 38,131 sales by 1,306, or approximately 3.5 per cent lower.

While a new overall market record was not set last year, a number of long standing records were broken, according to the TIC. December 2017 saw record monthly sales in both the Light Duty Truck and Van segments, with both segments also logging record fourth quarter (October to December) sales. When added to strong performances throughout 2017, the record fourth quarter results saw these two segments break existing sales records for all previous calendar years. It should be noted that all heavy vehicle segments posted gains over 2016 sales results.

The results for Q4 2017 show sales of 10,513 vehicles, which was 1,500 vehicles, or 16.6 per cent, greater than Q4 2016. Looking at the overall numbers for the month of December 2017 in isolation, the total heavy vehicle market of 3,473 units was up 421 vehicles on the 3,061 trucks sold in December 2016, making this past December the second best on record, only eclipsed (just) by the pre-GFC December of 2007 where 3,509 heavy vehicles were sold.

The heavy duty truck segment managed to amass sales of 1,250 units for the month, up 160 units, or 14.7 per cent, over the December 2016 result. In Q4 2017, heavy duty Truck sales reached a total of 3,739, up 805 trucks, or 27.4 per cent, over October to December 2016. Overall, 2017 saw much healthier heavy duty Truck sales than have been seen for the past decade, in fact 2017 heavy sales of 12,002 were the best recorded since the segment peak of 2007 when 13,342 heavy duty trucks were delivered, thus bringing to an end five consecutive years of negative growth in this segment. The 12,002 heavies sold in 2017 was 21.5 per cent up (2,120 trucks), over the sales posted for the 12 months of last year. Heavy duty Trucks have regained the largest slice of the Australian heavy truck and van market, accounting for 32.6 per cent of all heavy vehicles sold in 2017, moving ahead of the light duty truck segment at 31.6 per cent share, this despite record breaking light duty truck sales in 2017.

The medium duty truck segment has seen small but solid growth over the year and December was another positive month.  The December 2017 total was 667 units, representing 1.1 per cent growth (seven trucks) over December 2016. The Q4 medium duty segment result of 2,064 units is the second best post GFC final quarter for medium trucks, though a significant 36 per cent below the result for the same quarter in the record year of 2007. Comparing the total tally of 2017, which ended with 7,312 MD Truck sales, eclipsed that of 2016 by 4.1 per cent, or 285 trucks. The 2017 result is well below, 35.7 per cent, the segment peak of 2007 when 9,923 medium duty trucks were delivered.

The TIC said that the light duty van segment bounced back in 2017 after recording softer sales in 2016, following its record-breaking year of 2015. In total 5,883 heavy commercial vans were delivered in 2017, up 9.2 per cent (497 sales) over 2016. This was a new record for Australian van sales, eclipsing the 2015 mark of 5,515 by 6.6 per cent (368 vans). December saw stronger than average 2017 sales for the van segment with 499 vehicles delivered, up on December 2016 sales by 19.9 per cent (83 vans). December 2017 sales were also a record, up 13.4 per cent, 59 vans, over the December 2015 segment peak. The Q4 2017 result of 1,535 van sales was also a segment record, 183 vans, or 13.5 per cent, better than the previous best fourth quarter of 2016.

“It was pleasing to see that the final quarter of 2017 finished as strongly for new truck sales in Australia as the previous three quarters of the year,” said TIC President, Phil Taylor.

“The light duty truck and van segments finished with record breaking performances for the year, the final quarter and for the month of December 2017. While medium truck sales were solid all year and up over the numbers seen in 2016. However, it was the stellar growth in the heavy duty segment that I found most pleasing, building on a strong fourth quarter result way back in 2016, the heavy duty segment really kicked on in 2017 to record its second best sales result in history and the best result in the past decade.

“These are very positive signs heading into the start of 2018, a year in which we may just see a new overall market sales record,” he said.

TIC Chief Executive Officer, Tony McMullan, is hopeful that the strong growth seen in 2017 will lead to a record breaking 2018.

“2017 was a great year for truck sales in Australia,” said McMullan.

“The bottom end of the market saw record sales set in the light duty truck and light Duty van segments while the medium duty segment out performed 2016 results. It was, however, the gain in sales made in the heavy duty segment that was mighty. This segment went into 2017 with five consecutive years of negative growth, something that we have never seen before in this market. This made the 2017 heavy duty segment turn-around even more spectacular.

“TIC Members were expecting strong heavy duty sales in 2017, but the end result surpassed everyone’s expectations.

“The results displayed throughout 2017 in all segments, but particularly the heavy duty segment, are reflective of building business confidence. If confidence continues to grow in 2018, we can expect to see these upward truck and van sales trends continue, particularly at the heavy-duty end of the market, and possibly more records fall in 2018.

The long-standing 2007 market peak could even be within reach this year. With the age of the Australian truck park continuing to grow, further increased sales are required in 2018 and beyond to halt this concerning trend,” he said.

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