Half-time gloom for UK truck market

... but a couple of manufacturers are over the moon

Sales of new trucks in the UK fell by around 8% in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2017, according to registration figures published only this month by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The market decline accelerated in the second quarter of the year, to 9.4%, and SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes blames this largely on politicians and in particular on persistent Brexit-related uncertainty.

“While the fall in registrations follows strong demand in 2017, this quarter marks the fourth consecutive decline for the HGV (heavy goods vehicle) market,” he says.

“Ongoing political and economic uncertainty, coupled with concern around a patchwork of different local authority clean-air zones, has clearly had an impact. We need the right conditions to give operators confidence to invest in their fleets, ensuring this important market can continue to prosper.”


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Sketchy and late though the SMMT figures continue to be, they do reveal some starkly contrasting trends among truck-makers and their sales figures. DAF Trucks continues to outsell all rivals by a comfortable margin in the entire six-tonnes-plus-gvw market, but a near-16% drop in registration numbers in the first half of this year has meant its market share has fallen from 30.2 to 27.6%.

Only two truck-makers, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo Trucks, saw registrations grow in the first six months of this year. Mercedes is up by 4%, consolidating its second place in the sales league table, behind DAF and ahead of Scania.

One eye-catching development revealed by the last full-year, 2017, truck registration statistics, published two months late by SMMT (Commercial Vehicle Engineer, February 2018), was that Iveco’s market share had overtaken MAN’s for the first time in twelve years.

That Iveco success has proved short-lived with a 21% sales plunge in the first half of this year, compared with only a 3% fall for MAN, adding to the CNH Industrial subsidiary’s woes following last month’s untimely death of its charismatic chairman, Sergio Marchionne (Commercial Vehicle Engineer, July 2018).

Scania appears to have lost some of the sales impetus it gained following the phased introduction of its “new generation” truck range over the past two years. A year-on-year fall in registrations of more than 8% in the first half of this year means that the Volkswagen Truck & Bus (soon to be renamed Traton) subsidiary holds on to its 15+% share of the UK truck market, but Scania’s third-place position is now seriously under threat from bullish arch-rival Volvo.

But it is a different story for the Volvo Trucks sister company, Renault Trucks. Its registrations are down by more than 15% so far this year, with market share falling slightly to 4.3%.

A good first half for Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK managing director Mike Belk has been swift to react to publication of the latest UK truck registration figures.

Mike Belk, Mercedes-Benz Trucks
Mike Belk, Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK managing director

“By putting 3,623 new Mercedes-Benz trucks on the road in the first six months of the year, we continue to buck the downward trend,” he says. “In pure volume terms, we’re 4% up on our performance over the same period last year, against a market that shrank by 7.8%. It’s also a record high for our market share – both for the first quarter and for the first six months.

“Clearly operators are trusting our brand, and being rewarded with low total costs, increased safety and maximised uptime. Obviously, it’s only half-time, but all our colleagues and our dealer network are working hard to build on this momentum and ensure that we finish the year as strongly as we have started it.”

Despite widespread criticism, the SMMT still fails to publish detailed, manufacturer-by-manufacturer registration statistics for various truck bus and coach market sectors, as it used to. The London-based trade body is happy to do so in great detail, however, for cars and vans.

According to the SMMT, registrations grew in only two sectors of the truck market, tippers and skip-loaders, in the first half of this year. Tipper registrations overall are said to be up 23.7%, skip-loader registrations up 11.6%.

Rigid truck registrations overall are said to have fallen by 6.5% in the second quarter, though above 16 tonnes GVW the fall was only 1.8%. Tractive units (mainly three-axle) for articulated truck rigs continue to account for a huge proportion, nearly 41% of the whole truck market, despite a 13% fall in registrations between March and June.

Trucks at 6.0 tonnes GVW and above

Manufacturer (parent or controlling group) 2018 first six months 2017 first six months % change 2018 market share (%) 2017 market share (%)
DAF Trucks (Paccar) 5,636 6,700 -15.9% 27.6% 30.2%
Mercedes-Benz (Daimler) 3,623 3,484 +4.0% 17.7% 15.7%
Scania (Volkswagen) 3,121 3,398 -8.2% 15.3% 15.3%
Volvo Trucks (Volvo Group) 3,009 2,890 +4.1% 14.7% 13.0%
MAN (Volkswagen) 1,660 1,711 -3.0% 8.1% 7.7%
Iveco (CNH Industrial) 1,327 1,678 -21.0% 6.5% 7.6%
Renault Trucks (Volvo Group) 881 1,044 -15.6% 4.3% 4.7%
Isuzu Truck (Isuzu) 451 473 -4.7% 2.2% 2.1%
Dennis Eagle (Terberg) 372 387 -3.9% 1.8% 1.7%
Fuso (Daimler) 329 368 -10.6% 1.6% 1.7%
Others (unidentified by SMMT) 46 40 +15.0% 0.2% 0.2%
Hino (Toyota) 0 4 -100% 0.0% 0.02%
Total 20,455 22,177 -7.8% 100% 100%

 

[crp]

Tim Blakemore
Tim Blakemore is an award-winning automotive journalist and the former editor of our sister title, Commercial Vehicle Engineer magazine. He is also the UK representative on the panel of judges for the biennial, pan-European Trailer Innovation Award scheme.

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