Heavy duty truck sales soar again in May

Promising figures for commercial vehicles of most sizes, despite economic and political uncertainty

Heavy duty sales shifted up a gear on the road to recovery in May, the Truck Industry Council (TIC) figures record.

Strong moves were made by Scania, Mercedes-Benz and Iveco, with the first two increasing sales by more than 100 percent on the previous month.

That distiction went to Scania, which lifted its HD unit sales from 40 to 85, and Benz, from 28 to 65, with Iveco just missing out at 42 to 83.

Across all sizes and against a backdrop of soft retail sector sale results, some parts of the manufacturing sector offering a somewhat bleak outlook and fears for the resources sector, the TIC notes modest but continuing growth compared with the previous four years.

The total truck market of 2,769 units in May was 10 percent higher than for May 2012, giving a growth of 5.3 percent for the year-to-date tally.

"Keeping with recent trends, 2013 provided Australia’s strong post-GFC May result, yet is 16.7 percent below the best May result on record achieved in May 2007," the council notes.

When comparing the first five months in any given year, 2013’s result of 11,929 deliveries is 18.0 percent below that achieved in 2008.

After posting minimal growth in April, the heavy duty segment resumed outperforming the rest of the market , with 1,106 deliveries, or a 17.2 percent rise on May 2012.

"Growth in the HD segment for the year so far is back in double digits, now 10.0 per cent higher when compared with 2012," the TIC notes.

Medium Duty truck sales continue to show good growth, with May’s total of 600 units 5.1 percent higher than for May 2012 putting it second to the HD segment, with 8.6 percent growth for January through May.

Light duty truck sales posted a result just five units higher than for May 2012, for a tally this month of 753 units.

The year-to-date result in this segment is catching up with that achieved in 2012, and is now just 20 units behind.

Light duty van (LDV) sales posted the highest gain for the month compared with May 2012, with 310 units, or 21.6 percent higher.

For the first five months of the year, the LDV segment is now 1.0 percent ahead of the same period in 2012.

"Low interest rates and an improved credit market have combined to allow some transport operators to obtain finance to resume renewal of their fleets," TIC CEO Tony McMullan says.

"However, the usual business uncertainty and lack of capital expenditure leading up to a federal election is a factor to watch out for in the coming months.

"It is important to note, despite the current levels of growth in truck sales, the average age of the truck fleet remains close to 14 years, and the overall freight task continues to grow.

"The nation needs more trucks to keep the economy running, and operators should be encouraged to replace the oldest trucks in their fleets to improve overall levels of productivity, safety and environmental stewardship."

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