Truck sales rise as first quarter results come in


Second-best first quarter in five years on display

Truck sales rise as first quarter results come in
Hino makes up ground on Isuzu as both lead record light-duty charge

All doubts that commercial vehicle sales are in boom territory again can be put to rest, with the March total topping the last comparable peak and the first quarter being the second best in five years.

March comes in at 3,558, above March 2018’s then all-time high of 3,447, while the quarter hits 8,325, just below 2018’s 8,675, according to Truck Industry Council (TIC) T-Mark statistics.

This marks a sizzling return to form after total figures dropped successively over the past two years.

Across the sizes, Isuzu is in new territory, with 820 units for the month and 2,034 for the quarter, just above 2018’s 817 and 2,006 and significantly higher than last year’s 640/1,714. The market leader has seen its monthly totals rise strongly, with January at 500 and February at 714.

One step down, Hino’s dynamic is slightly different as its efforts to bridge the gap make some headway. Hino’s 551/1,326 against 2018’s 440/1,181 is a higher margin on 2018 than Isuzu, though its jump from last year’s 414/996 is on a par with the market leader.

Fuso, too, is in on the act, though some good work in March 2019, with 404 units for the month, spoils the symmetry. Still, it has 387/925 against 2018’s 373/867.

Heavy Duty

The big noises are slightly muted compared with the market generally, but still pretty healthy.

This year’s 1,035/2,437 are below 2019’s hot 1,186/2,916 and 2018’s almost equally hot 1,174/2,903, making it third best in five years. Again, the growth over three months sees a near-doubling of monthly sales, with January at 597.

Segment leader Kenworth is forging on, with 222 for the month above the next highest March, 2018’s 212. Though, the quarterly total of 497 is well below 2019’s 572 and 2018’s 551.

The effect of Volvo’s loss of momentum last year is still evident but there are signs of a response, with month-on-month figures rising as they should from January’s 93 units, albeit slowly. But March’s 112/314 is a long way off the five-year peak of 200/491 in 2019.

Also feeling the pressure on these comparisons is Isuzu, at 102/292. Again, it’s not a patch on 2018’s 169/427, more a continuation of similar figures. But treading water just gives an opportunity to others to make moves.

Those others, for this March at least, are Scania, returning to form with 107/218, and Mercedes-Benz at 106/260. Scania’s best in the past five years is 2019’s 115/245, while that for Benz’s is 2019’s 114/263. Last year, those figures are 61/210 and 84/172 respectively.


Read how the start to the year was looking in February, here


Most other brands are basically standing their ground, though two wrinkles are worth mentioning.

A new range usually helps a brand and that goes for DAF as one of the few to have missed the previous boom. It is now showing steady growth towards where it was in 2017 – 49/91 now and 42/97 last year against 44/90 five years ago.

The other is Dennis Eagle, with the niche brand breaking a four-year run of March ducks with 15/26, against 2017’s 16/30.

Medium Duty

A similar story one rung down is told, with this year’s total at 602/1,462, the third best in five years, after 2019’s 663/1,650 and 2018’s 742/1,768.

For segment leader Isuzu, it’s steady as she goes post-boom, with 226/574 just a smidgin off last year’s 210/580 and 2017’s 225/587.

As mentioned several times, Hino’s efforts, particularly in this weight division, has been concerted, allowing it to shade those figures more closely now, at 222/514, 192/465 and 181/440.

Fuso continues to bob around in third place, with 115/267 this year very close to 2018’s 115/275 but hardly a challenge to the two leaders.

Iveco is the only brand here in double figures or above 30 for the quarter, at 13/37.

Light Duty

Very rarely these days is the dynamo for truck-sales movement not found at the lighter end of the market – and here it is in five-year record territory.

The totals of 1,231/2,971 mark the first March in four figures and the strongest quarter as it approaches the 3,000 unit mark, where the next best year is 2018 at 994/2,575.

Isuzu leads the charge here, too, with 492/1,168 making a mockery of 2018’s 358/965.

And the place-getters are joining in. Hino’s 264/687 blows away next best 2019’s 217/596 while Fuso looks to make up ground on its second-placed rival  with 223/559, which is up on its next best year of 2018’s 212/500.

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