Heavy trucks, vans set new January record

Kenworth T909 moves through the Australian countryside.

Despite falling short of the overall monthly target, new sales records were set in the Heavy Truck and Van sectors in January according to the Truck Industry Council.

Total Australian new truck sales for January 2024 were recorded at 2,703 units, just short of setting a new January heavy vehicle sales record by 83 trucks.

Meanwhile Medium Duty Truck sales were at a five-year high for January.

It was Light Duty Truck sales that waned in the first month of 2024, leaving the market short of a new overall monthly record by 2.9 per cent.

However the result was the second strongest start to a new year for Australian heavy vehicle sales.

That record still sits with January 2023.

Coming off the record sales final quarter of 2023, it was expected that Heavy truck sales might slow a little coming into in 2024 as the boom sales of last year cooled, however 948 Heavy Duty trucks were sold, beating the record January result of last year by the small margin of 4 trucks, or 0.4 per cent.

Both the 2023 and 2024 Heavy sales results are well up over the previous January record set way back in the pre-GFC January of 2008 where 814 trucks were sold.

The 2024 and 2023 results are up some 16.0 per cent, leaving that 16-year-old mark in their wake.

The Medium Duty segment was also up over the 2023 January result, with 440 Medium truck deliveries for the month of January 2024, versus 406 trucks in January last year, a gain of 8.4 per cent.

This result is well short, 111 trucks, or 20 per cent, of the best ever January deliveries of 551 Medium trucks achieved in 2008.

As reported previously, the MD segment is a shrinking market, so it is unlikely, according to the TIC, that new records in Medium truck sales will be rewritten in future.

Nonetheless, the Medium Truck segment is off to a strong start in 2024 with the best January sales seen since 2019, making for a five-year high.

Sales in the Light Duty segment last January did set a new record. In January a respectable 823 new “little trucks” were sold, down a significant 19.9 per cent over January 2023. That equates to 205 less Light Duty Truck sales compared to the same month last year.

In 2022 Light Duty Van sales fall well below previous year’s sales, primarily due to supply and freight issues out of Europe. Two years later and Van sales have rebounded to the point of setting a new monthly sales record for January.

According to the TIC, 492 Van sales were recorded for the month of January 2024, a gain on January 2023 of 20.9 per cent. That is 85 more Van sales than this time last year and it surpasses the previous January record set back in 2017 when 478 Vans were delivered.

Hence January 2024 Van sales beat the 2017 mark by 2.8 per cent (14 vans).

“As in 2023, it is very pleasing to see such a strong start to the year for new heavy vehicle sales in Australia, with the Heavy Truck and Light Van segments setting new January sales records and Medium Trucks posting their best January sales result in 5 years,” said Tony McMullan, TIC CEO.

“However, as I generally remark at this time of year, January and even February sales, are subject to fluctuations and some inconsistencies due to the transition of supplying trucks from one year to the next and the summer holiday period.

“The relative poor showing in the Light Truck segment could well be due to these factors. Hence one should not read too much into these January results.”

McMullan said there would be a much better indication of how the market was tracking for the year at the end of the first quarter, once January, February and March numbers are in and the market has had a chance to normalise.

“With recent positive economic signs, such as inflation easing, we have perhaps seen the worst of interest rates hikes and similar economic deterrents and if the economy strengthens in 2024 that could bode well for truck sales this year,” he said.

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