This time last year there was anything but a celebratory mood in the local manufacturing camps.
With the initial impact of Covid-19 taking hold, heavy duty sales bore the brunt of the slow-down with only 852 big rigs sold in the month of March, down a whopping 28.2 per cent on the same period a year earlier.
What a difference a year – and a leg-up from low interest and the instant asset write-off scheme – has made.
In the latest sales numbers from the Truck Industry Council, a total of 3558 new trucks and vans were registered in March 2021 for a year-to-date total of 8325, a significant jump on the YTD tally of 6905 in 2020.
The March run this year also beats the previous all-time tally for the month of 3447, set in 2018.
In the heavy-duty sector, Kenworth marked its 50th anniversary celebrations with a market-dominating 222 sales.
That was well clear of 2020’s early sector pacesetter Volvo with 112 sales, just ahead of a tight-knit pack headed by Scania on 107, Mercedes-Benz with 106 and Isuzu on 102.
Scania says the TIC numbers for March reflect the on-going strength of the new truck market especially at the heavy end, driven by operators looking for cost-effective and low emission vehicles.
“Running costs and whole of life costs are increasingly informing purchase decisions, as are suites of safety features, all areas of strength for Scania,” said a spokesperson.
“Orders continue to run at a pleasing level as well, indicating deliveries over the medium term should remain strong.
“Like all industry manufacturers dependent on silicon chips to power onboard computerised control systems, the disruption in supply globally is expected to place a strain on the pipeline of finished vehicles through the mid-part of the year.
“We are hopeful that our careful management of stock we enable us to service the needs of our customers throughout 2021.”
In the medium-duty sector, the YOY bounce-back wasn’t quite as noticeable with a total of 602 sales, versus 526 for the same period in 2020.
That brings the YTD tally to 1462, only slightly up on 1436 recorded for the same period in 2020.
Despite the sluggish numbers, there is still an intriguing race developing in the category between perennial leaders Isuzu and the hard-chasing Hino.
The latter made up massive ground from February to record 222 registrations for March, just four shy of Isuzu on 226.
That brings Hino’s YTD total to 514 and now just 60 adrift of Isuzu.
The others were headed by Fuso on 115, the only other manufacturer to hit triple figures for March.
In the light-duty race, Isuzu again dominated with 492 sales, with Hino second on 264 and Fuso next on 223, the major players in the sector’s healthy monthly total of 1231.
The YTD tally is now 2971 in a market clearly thriving on the last mile delivery demand.
To the end of the first quarter in 2020, 2067 light duty trucks had been delivered, a decrease of 14.1 per cent over the 2019 first quarter result.