Sales numbers tell the prime mover story

Kenworth and Volvo have been subjected to fluctuating fortunes since 2019

Kenworth’s big-selling K200. Photo by Warren Caves

At the close of 2019, Kenworth’s grip on heavy-duty market leadership was looking extremely tenuous and with Volvo in hot pursuit, many pundits predicted it wouldn’t be long before the two swapped places on the leadership ladder.

For the record, Kenworth finished 2019 with 18.5 per cent of the market on the delivery of 2,350 trucks. Volvo had drawn increasingly closer through the year, finishing with 17.6 per cent and 2,239 units.

Momentum certainly appeared to be with Volvo and in a decidedly depressed, COVID-constrained start to the year, the halfway point in 2020 saw the Swedish maker grab the front with 18.8 per cent and Kenworth back on 16.6 per cent.

Then something happened. Either the wheels fell off Volvo’s charge or Kenworth demand went into hyper-drive, or maybe a bit of both.

Whatever, Kenworth finished a most unusual 2020 with a powerful surge, delivering 2,114 trucks for a market-leading 19.9 per cent, well ahead of Volvo with 16.4 per cent on the delivery of 1,740 trucks.

Volvo hit the front in 2020 before coming back to earth.

The final months of the year saw particularly remarkable results for Kenworth, especially December. In the final month of 2020, the brand captured an incredible 28.5 per cent of the national heavy-duty truck market whereas Volvo was soundly smashed with a lacklustre 11.5 per cent. Strange days indeed!

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Meantime, Volvo’s conventional colleague Mack didn’t fare too well either, finishing the heavy-duty year in sixth spot overall with a modest 6.6 per cent. No doubt, there are high hopes the upcoming Anthem plus a number of long-awaited developments in Super-Liner and Trident models will give the dog more bite in 2021.

Yet, it wasn’t just Kenworth notching healthy figures as 2020 finally drew to a close.

The other half of the Paccar pair also enjoyed a bountiful bounce in December as DAF notched a respectable 5.9 per cent of the heavy-duty class, pushing its end-of-year score to 4.5 per cent and in the process, hauling past the Japanese trio of Fuso, Hino and UD as well as Iveco and Freightliner.

Who knows what 2021 will bring? Whatever, it’s sure to be anything but boring.


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