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Truck market seeks to strike back against the virus

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Signs of some relative recovery in July from pandemic’s economic hit

Truck market seeks to strike back against the virus
Kenworth has nosed in front again at the heavy race

 

The commercial vehicle sales year is starting to look like one of differing halves, with most of the first taking a double whammy of a slowing economy and Covid-19 lockdowns.

The second half, however, and we will include June in that for the sake of neatness, is being marked by a return to some sort of form – 2017 form, though this is uneven.

True, this was mentioned in passing last month and the Truck Industry Council’s (TIC’s) T-Mark statistics show the industry is behind where it was this time that year. But not by far and the industry can be forgiven the temptation of sighing in relief.

How far is "not far"? Well, monthly and year-to-date (YTD) totals this year that are 2,891 and 19,339 while 2017’s are 2,951 and 19,742.

Figures for the top three manufacturers overall are:  Isuzu 724/4,776 against 737/4,962, Hino 456/3,024 against 465/3,125 and Fuso 309/1,886 against 421/2,449.

Heavy duty

The comparison was less pronounced in the heavy-duty segment. Indeed, here, this July was at 782/5,701 compared with 2017’s 909/6,040 and 2016’s 765/5,275.

Oddly, July has often seen the battle of the big guns, Volvo and Kenworth, at its closest.

Now, after being bested for a few, Kenworth has bobbed ahead, with 144, four units in front of Volvo. In 2017, it was Volvo one unit ahead at 154 and in 2016, there was a tie at 158 each.

As mentioned this time last month, July always takes a fall on June and the value of month-on-month and even comparisons can be difficult to discern, as is year-on-year, as we are coming off a two-year spike

Suffice to say that Mercedes-Benz and Scania are making something of a move in the bunched pack of three, including and Mack, searching for a way to bridge the gap with third-placed Isuzu.

But it is awfully close – Scania at 470 YTD, Benz at 467 and Mack at 423 – and the gap significant, with Isuzu’s YTD at 722.

Below that, there is another group of three, in the 200s – UD’s YTD at 279, Hino’s 267 and DAF’s 265.

Medium duty

A step down in size also sees the comparison somewhat closer to 2016 than 2017, with this July at 570/3,835 compared with 2017’s 653/3,974 and 2016’s 546/3,891.

As always but more so in July, Isuzu, Hino and Fuso make the running and MAN a clear fourth, a long way behind and, with only three units sold for the month, not making of an impression beyond being the only other make in three figures YTD at 153.

The drama, if it can be so described, is Hino’s effort in shooting for top spot.

While it publically threw down the gauntlet many months ago, a survey of the YTD market share over the last three years shows steady and even growth, from 27 per cent to 33.9 per cent.

The issue here being that much of the growth has been at the expense of the smaller players, given that Isuzu’s market share in that time has grown too, from 39.2 per cent to 40.5 per cent.

Light duty

So, where has the truck sales resurgence come from? To a significant extent, look no further than the lighter end of town.

If the federal government’s economic stimulus is making a mark, it may well be here.

And to a certain extent, the figures bear comparison even with last year, let alone 2017.

This July is at 989/6,244 compared with last year’s 1,034/6,552, 2017’s 939/6,390 and 2016’s 856/5,875.

Hino again is pushing for market share, up from 19.9 per cent YTD in 2018 to 23.3 per cent this year. But Isuzu more than matched it, lifting its from 37.3 per cent to 40.1 per cent.

The solace for Fuso is that its third place looks unassailable for the minnows at more than twice the performance of the next best, Iveco.

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