– By Caroline Falls –
The Australian truck industry is eyeing off record sales in 2018, citing a strong economy, big spending on infrastructure, and fleet replacement for the positive outlook.
Truck manufacturers and industry authorities are predicting sales of trucks — light, medium and heavy non-passenger vehicles over 3,500 kilo GVM (gross vehicle mass) — will break through the 40,000 units a year barrier for the first time.
The current record is for sales of 38,131 trucks in 2007, before the global financial crisis crueled things.
“It’s been one hell of a long road to recovery ever since,” said Phil Taylor, CEO and director of leading truck importer, Isuzu Australia. “Back in 2009, we were all suffering from the pressures of the GFC with truck sales that year totalling 28,654, down a massive 25 percent from the market peak of 2007.”
It got worse. Sales crumbled to 27,858 two years later as operators, in uncertain times, held onto their vehicles for longer.
Now though, 11 years after the GFC, fleet and transport operators are not holding back on replacing vehicles. The average age of Australian trucks is 14.9 years, a figure which exceeds the average in other developed nations, according to the Truck Industry Council, a peak industry body representing truck manufacturers, importers and component makers.
Giant road and rail infrastructure projects going on around the country demand more trucks. Some of the big budget jobs underway include the $3 billion NorthConnex motorway project in NSW, the $10 billion Melbourne Metro project that’s adding new rail lines in Victoria, Bruce Highway upgrades in Qld, and the Forrestifeld airport rail link in Perth.
Meanwhile, the mining industry is picking up, and increasingly popular online shopping and home deliveries are increasing the task for trucks.
“Our own in-house projections are pointing to an all-time record in 2018 with the market on track to break the 40,000 sales a year barrier for the first time,” said Taylor, speaking at a media event in Melbourne during October. “I think all manufacturers will be pushing hard to finish up above the 40,000 mark.”
The total market, truck and van, was up 10.9 percent for the month of October over the same month in 2017, however year-to-date heavy vehicle sales are tracking much higher at 15.9 percent higher than this time last year, the Truck Industry Council, said in its latest press release covering truck sales.
Meanwhile, passenger vehicle sales have hit a lull, with year to date increases showing an increase of near just 1 percent.
“With just two months remaining in the year, we are inching ever closer to a new all-time sales record for heavy vehicle sales in Australia,” said Tony McMullan, CEO at the Truck Industry Council. “We may even crack that elusive goal of more than 40,000 new truck sales in a calendar year.”