The downward trend in sales of the heavy vehicle segment seen across Q4 late last year has continued into 2020 according to the latest figures released by the Truck Industry Council (TIC).
Total Australian new truck sales for January 2020 were reported at 1,852 units, a decrease in 344 vehicles compared to the same period in 2019.
It was officially the tenth worst result in January recorded since the TIC began collating data on commercial vehicle sales in Australia 16 years ago.
If the downturn was not wholly unexpected the extent of which, however, has left many surprised.
With only 588 Heavy Duty trucks sold for the month it represents a drop of 181 trucks or -23.4 per cent.
Medium Duty segment sales in January were considered good, relative to the other segments.
While the January 2020 Medium Duty result was down over the same month in 2019, the minor 1.4 percent decrease is six fewer Medium trucks, making it the smallest drop seen across all of the heavy truck and van categories in January.
That makes it the only segment to record a single digit percentage fall according to the TIC.
In total 435 Medium truck deliveries were confirmed for the month of January 2020, in contrast to 441 units in January 2019.
All other segments recorded double digit percentage reductions for the January on January period.
Light Duty truck sales slowed somewhat in the sector last year after setting a new sales record in 2018.
That trend has continued into 2020 with the Light Duty Truck segment cooling even further to commence the new year.
A total of 510 LD trucks were sold in January 2020, this represented a 13.7 percent fall over the same month last year.
Van sales were down on January 2019 results by a significant 19.4 per cent, making for 77 fewer vehicle sales.
A total of only 319 LD Vans were sold in January 2020.
TIC CEO Tony McMullan said the heavy vehicle sales result was disappointing but not surprising.
“Sales in the final half of 2019, particularly the final quarter, were noticeably trending down and with other economic indicators showing no sign that this downward trend was likely to abate, the start of this new decade was destined to be “soft” for new truck sales," he said.
"This is the worst sales start to a year, for five years and as I indicated above is disappointing. Not from a personal point of view, though TIC members always welcome a strong order bank, it is disappointing because it shows that our nation’s economy is slowing," said McMullan.
"Truck sales are a good indicator of our country’s economic strength, slowing new truck sales means a slowing economy. It is also a disappointing outcome for road safety, as reduced truck sales directly result in uptake of fewer new trucks with the latest safety features such as Electronic Stability Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assists, etc.
"These month-on-month and now year-on-year results, along with other economic indicators should be sending a clear message to government that economic stimulus should be a priority, sooner, rather than later.”
(Image: Tony McMullan, TIC CEO).