New all-time sales record achieved for heavy vehicle sales

Australian heavy vehicles set a new sales record in 2023.

Australian truck and heavy van sales for the 2023 calendar year have eclipsed all previous records.

The Truck Industry Council, which collates heavy vehicle sales in Australia, confirmed that a total of 47,757 units were reported for the last calendar year, up a significant 3,378 units, or 7.6 percent, over last year.

In 2022 a benchmark was set for heavy vehicle sales in Australia.

While a new overall market record was set last year, it was not the only record set in 2023, with a number of other records broken too.

Quarters one, two and four set new sales records highlighting the strength of the market throughout 2023.

By year end a new sales record was set in the Heavy truck segment, while the Light truck segment fell 267 trucks (1.6 percent) short of setting a new all-time sales record. Further highlighting the year-long robustness of sales across the heavy vehicle sector.

Taking a closer look at the results for the fourth quarter 2023, T-Mark results show sales of 12,305 vehicles. This was a new quarter four sales record, eclipsing the previous best fourth quarter record set in 2022 when 12,144 heavy vehicles were delivered in October through to December.

It was also a record quarter for Heavy truck sales in Australia, more details about this are below in the Heavy truck segment update. Reviewing the overall numbers for the month of December 2023 in isolation, the total heavy vehicle market saw 4,111 new truck and van sales, just one truck short of the all-time December sales record (4,112 trucks) set in 2022.

The Heavy Duty Truck Segment managed to amass sales of 1,752 units for the month of December 2023, up a healthy 271 units, or 18.3 per cent, over the December 2022 result.

In Q4, 2023 HD truck sales reached a total of 4,917, up 538 trucks, or 12.3 per cent, over October to December 2022. This was a new quarter four HD record, overhauling the previous high mark set in 2022.

Overall, 2023 saw much healthier Heavy truck sales and the end of year total of 17,569 was a new record for the segment surpassing the 2022 peak of 14,966 by an impressive 2,603 trucks, or 17.4 per cent.

Heavy Duty trucks now make up the largest slice of the Australian heavy truck and van market, accounting for 36.8 per cent of all heavy vehicles sold in 2023 and leapfrogging the Light Duty truck segment into first place.

The Medium Duty Truck Segment saw modest growth over the year, with December being another strong month.

The December 2023 total was 724 units, representing 36 more MD sales over the same month in 2022 — an increase of 13.1 per cent for the month.

The fourth quarter MD segment result of 2,131 is up on the final quarter 2022 result of 1,954 units by 177 trucks, or 9.6 per cent. This is well behind the final quarter record for Medium trucks, set way back in 2007 when 2,812 MD trucks were delivered in the final three months and highlights the freight industry’s move away from Medium trucks into either smaller Light Duty trucks, or to larger Heavy trucks.

The total tally of 8,004 MD truck sales in 2023, eclipsed that of 2022 by 7.3 per cent, or 154 trucks. While up on 2022 sales, the 2023 result is well below (-24.0 per cent) the segment peak of 2007 when 9,923 Medium Duty trucks were delivered.

In 2023 Medium Duty truck sales accounted for just 17.1 per cent of new heavy vehicles sold in Australia, almost half of the MD segment’s peak of 30.9 per cent set in 2001.

Just as the Light Duty truck segment came close to setting a new sales record in 2023, it fell just 267 trucks short of the all-time segment record set in 2022.

However, the month of December 2023 was not strong for ‘little’ truck sales with just 1,187 new LD trucks delivered, down 17.6 per cent (-206 trucks), over December 2022.

The Q4 total of 3,749 truck sales, was also well down on the quarter four 2022 result (-13.1 per cent, -490 trucks), noting that the 2022 quarter four result was a record for the LD segment.

The yearlong sales trend in the Light Duty truck segment was stronger and as mentioned above, fell slightly short of setting a new sales record.

A total of 16,166 LD trucks were delivered last year, falling short of the record 2022 benchmark by 266 trucks (-1.6 per cent). The Light Duty truck segment accounted for at 33.6 per cent of all heavy vehicle sales in 2023 and as detailed above has now slipped back to be the second strongest segment after HD trucks.

“It was pleasing to see such strong truck sales continue in 2023, with the year setting a new all-time sales record for new truck sales in Australia, eclipsing the previous peak set in 2022,” said Tony McMullan, TIC CEO.

“It was equally pleasing to see annual new truck and van sales approaching the 50,000 mark.

“The 40,000 barrier was only broken relatively recently in 2018 and despite the COVID supply chain disruptions, new truck sales in Australia have remain strong.

“The 2023 result of 47,757 sales has surpassed industry expectations, particularly given the 2023 mid-year end of the temporary full expensing tax measures put in place during COVID.”

However, despite these record new truck sales, the Truck industry Council remains concerned that the average age of the Australian truck fleet appears to remain much older than that of Europe and North America according to McMullan.

“An old truck fleet is not conducive to improved safety, public health and environmental outcomes for our society,” he said.

“Moving into 2024, we must consider what more can be done by both industry and particularly government, to reduce the age of our nation’s truck fleet.”

The Light Duty Van Segment rebounded somewhat from the poor sales results of 2022 and by year end 2023 a total of 6,018 Vans above 3.5t GVM were sold in Australia, up 9.0 per cent (499 Vans) over the previous year’s result of 5,519 Van sales.

However, as with the Light truck segment, December saw weaker than average 2023 sales for the Van segment with just 448 vans delivered, well down on December 2022 sales by 18.6 per cent (-102 vans).

The 2023 fourth quarter result of 1,508 new van sales was also down on the 2022 fourth quarter result of 1,572, by 64 vans, or -4.2 per cent. Slow sales in 2022 and 2023 have seen the Van segment slip to just 12.6 per cent of the total Australian new heavy vehicle market, well down on their market peak of 18.1 per cent share, at year end 2020.

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