May light truck sales boost market numbers overall

White-hot smaller end of the market boosts total

May light truck sales boost market numbers overall
Isuzu has had a smashing month

With investment growth for plant and machinery in rarefied air generally for the economy, it would beggar belief if commercial vehicle sales were not following suit.

And so it is that Truck Industry Council (TIC) T-Mark figures for May reach 3,639 units for a year-to-date (YTD) total of 15,179.

That’s the top month so far this year, beating March’s 3,558. Those numbers are giving 2018’s top of the last boom May performance – 3,913/15,739 – a serious scare.

And that is quite extraordinary, as this boom cycle has taken less than half the time of the Global Financial Crisis-impacted last.

With 2019’s 3,556/14,817 starting to be left in this year’s dust, the comparisons with the last peak are perhaps more relevant.

This seems reasonable, given the three Japanese market-leading makes are tracking closer to, or better, than 2018.

Put it this way, Isuzu is at 861/3,683, as against 2018’s 905/3,660.

For Hino, it is 596/2,442 compared with 491/2,091.

While Fuso may be lagging that cracking pace with 369/1,611 against 409/1,614, it is still way beyond 2019’s 294/1,436.

So far, so brilliant. But it is a far from balanced picture, with the light-duty segment doing all the heavy lifting.

Heavy duty

Sadly, it has to be something of a given that the heavy-duty segment ignores the light-duty example.

Therefore, this year’s 1,050/4,416 trails 2018’s 1,328/5,387 and 2019’s 1,212/5,134 but is above both 2017 and, especially, this time last year.

That said, the dynamics interesting, with perennial placegetters shouldering the load.

Segment leader Kenworth’s 181 for this May marks the second month of falls around the 20-unit mark from 222 in March.

Read how the commercial vehicle sales looked this time last year, here

Against that, Volvo has had a rebound after many months in the doldrums, its 152 nearly 50 per cent up on April and March, putting it firmly back into second place.

Isuzu hits 132 after dipping to 88 in April.

Scania, at 105, may have dropped back from April’s surprise 132 but keeps itself in the three-figure territory it will hope to become accustomed to.

Mercedes-Benz will hope to as well but seems a little range bound recently, bobbling either side of the 100 mark and fetching up last month at 99.

Mid-table performances help, with Hino and Mack on 61, up from 51 and 48 respectively in April, though that is a bit below March’s 65 and 62.

UD, however, is making headway, with 44 up from 29 and 35 counting back.

The same can’t be said of Freightliner, which slides from 34 to 23 in the past three months.

On the vocational front, it might be noted Dennis Eagle hauls itself up to 21 units, from a solitary figure the month before and 15 in March.

Medium Duty

The mid-size segment makes a fist of coming up with a mid-size performance in May but falls short.

The 677/2,703 is better than 2020’s 515/2,368 and 2017’s 637/2,578 but can’t compete with 2019’s 734/2,979 and 2018’s747/3,189.

The gains on last year are almost entirely reflected by the establish market leaders, where tenacious Hino is making yet another assault on Isuzu’s top place.

So, Isuzu’s last three months counting back are 249, 227 and 226, nudging out Hino’s 241, 201 and 222, with Fuso at 140, 104 and 115.

Light Duty

The heavy lifting was promised and here it is, with 1,166/5,250.

It may not be equal to the powerhouse years of 2019, 2018 and 2017 on their respective May’s 999, 1,215 and 1,071 but the fast start to the year has the year-to-date figures ahead of 4,244, 4,717 and 4,218.

Leader Isuzu’s 480/2,121 for this May tops 2019’s 358/1,576, 2018’s 446/1,741 and 2017’s 422/1,717. Also, that 480 is more than its April and March figures combined.  

The same sort of thing goes for Hino, with 294/1,249 topping 217/984, 241/1,014 and 222/804.

Fuso’s 177/908 speaks to a different narrative, given 2018 was a highlight year. But it stacks up well against 149/739, 269/956 and 207/860.

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