Australian truck market reports boom year, narrowly misses record

The Truck Industry Council has reported that sales for trucks and heavy vans totalled 41,404 units for 2021.

An increase of 6,928 vehicles, or 20.1 per cent, over COVID-affected 2020 sales, it marks something of a triumph for the Federal Government financial incentives, that were applied throughout calendar year 2021, and are recognised as having been a significant contributing factor to the market’s stellar sales performance last year.

While December 2021 sales were a new record, with 3,528 truck and van sales for the month, the overall tally for 2021 fell a mere 225 trucks short of a new Australian heavy vehicle sales record.

That sales record is still held by 2018, when 41,628 heavy vehicles were sold.

However, when the numbers are analysed in a little more detail, there are some notable differences between 2021 sales and those of 2018 according to the TIC.

The split between segments is one notable example.

In 2018, the market was very much driven by the sale of Heavy trucks.

By 2021, however, the Heavy truck sector was much weaker with sales largely driven by Light trucks and Vans last year with e-Commerce and last mile deliveries trending up.

Heavy truck sales in 2021 were almost 10 per cent lower than in 2018, as were Medium truck sales.

Conversely, Light truck and van sales were up by more than 10 per cent last year, when compared to sales from 2018.

“This shows that while sales last year were at near record levels, the growth was at the bottom end of the heavy vehicle market, not at the top end,” said the TIC in a statement.

The result, in part, derives from supply chain issues impacting Heavy truck production, but was more likely an outcome of wary businesses lacking confidence in renewing the greater value assets in their organisations.

Ongoing uncertainty surrounding the economic climate generated by government responses to COVID-19 justified this cautious approach.

After the struggles over the past two years, it was pleasing, according to Tony McMullan, TIC Chief Executive Officer, to see 2021 finish with near record sales.

“This is testament to the hard work and resilience shown by all parts of the heavy road freight industry throughout the pandemic. However, there is no doubt that the leadership shown and financial incentives put in place by the Federal Government, has been the contributing factor in new truck sales last year. Overall, our economy is strong and that is no more evident than in the heavy vehicle sector,” he said.

“The past few weeks have again highlighted that the road ahead is neither clear, nor certain. COVID remains an issue that we need to continue to live with and manage. For Truck Industry Council members, domestic and global supply chain issues look to be the greatest threat to new truck and van supply over the next twenty four months,” said McMullan.

“This situation will not be resolved quickly and whilst the Federal Government’s financial incentives remain in place for over a year, TIC requests that government consider extending the ‘delivery to market’ phase of these incentives. Thus allowing new trucks to be delivered into service for a period of one year, beyond the current deadline of June 2023.”

Crowds inspect the Fuso eCanter at the Brisbane Truck Show last year.

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