Prime Mover Magazine


Freight surges fail to insulate August truck sales

Two years of market reduction have continued unabated in truck sales for the month of August.

The Truck Industry Council confirmed that the new truck and heavy van market shrunk by a fifth when compared to sales for the same month last year.

That drop of 20.7 per cent continued the pattern of slowing sales in a year affected by COVID-19 economic impacts and market uncertainty.

Year-to-date heavy vehicle sales are tracking 13.5 percent lower than last year. In comparison to 2018 they are faring even worse, with sales now down 20.0 percent to the end of August.

In terms of actual vehicles, 3,425 less trucks have been sold thus far in 2020 compared to year-to-date August 2019.

The Heavy Duty sector, in a welcome change of fortune, performed the best of the heavy vehicle segments in August with 821 units delivered although it still represented a decrease of 16.7 per cent on August last year.

However, the year-to-date trend is not as positive for the segment, with Heavy sales tracking 22.8 per cent lower than over the same period in 2019.

In unit numbers that is a substantial 1,921 less Heavies sold than for the same period last year. Total sales up until August in 2020 for the Heavy Duty segment stand at 6,522 trucks.

Tony McMullan, CEO of the Truck Industry Council noted that with these latest month-on-month falls, the new truck market had slowed even further this year.

“The August result continues the trend that has been building over the past few months, though the declining sales in the Medium truck and Light truck and van sectors appear to be accelerating," he said.

"Economic conditions in Australia continue to worsen with our economy now in a technical recession for the first time in 29 years, due entirely to the COVID-19 pandemic," said McMullan.

"There is also no doubt that August heavy vehicle sales have been directly impacted by the worsening COVID situation in Victoria in July and August. With signs that conditions in Victoria are improving, we hope to see truck and van sales recover a little in September and October, over the August result lows.

"I am pleased to see that for the first time in a number of months that the Heavy truck segment, though still noticeably down, outperformed the other heavy vehicle sectors."

The Medium Duty Truck segment, which has struggled since the start of 2020, posted the second largest percentage loss in August. Only 484 MD trucks were sold in the month of August 2020, that represents 24.8 per cent (-160 units) fewer sales than in August 2019.

That brings the year-to-date Medium segment sales even lower, some 14.5 per cent below the same period last year. This represents 732 fewer Medium trucks sold to the end of August. A total of 4,319 Medium Duty trucks have been sold year-to-date.

The Light Duty segment has at least enjoyed consistent truck sales when compared to 2019 results, insofar as the category has performed better than all others so far this year.

However, a single month drop of 17.5 per cent (-180 trucks) in a single month has been cause for concern, as it equates to nearly three times as great as the yearly percentage trend to the end of August.

With a year-to-date deficit running at -6.4 per cent, it amounts to 488 less Light Duty truck sales in 2020 compared to 2019.

A total of 849 trucks were sold in the month of August, while the total Light Duty truck tally for the year thus far is 7,093.

Van sales in August took an even bigger hit than their Light Duty trucks cousins, down 27.6 per cent for the month. That equates to 176 less Van sales in August 2020 compared to the same month last year.

A total of 462 Vans were sold for the month.

The August Van sales result was more than four times worse than the year-to-date percentage trend of -6.6 percent. Year-to-date 4,021 new Van sales have been recorded to the end of August, that is down 284 sales over the same period in 2019.

"Australia faces a long road ahead, however I have no doubt that the truck industry will continue to provide the essential road freight services required during these difficult times. The Truck Industry Council and our members will continue to play our part in keeping those wheels turning.” said McMullan.

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