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POSITIVE signs of sales growth above the 2020 average have emerged in the truck and van sectors with the October figures showing a return of buyers to the commercial vehicle segment.

The Truck Industry Council (TIC) said growth was recorded in October in all heavy vehicle truck and van segments over and above the 2020 yearly sales averages.

TIC CEO Tony McMullan said new truck sales had stabilised in the third quarter but now the industry was seeing “positive growth, although slight, across the light truck and van segments” in October.

“The medium and heavy segments, though down on October 2019 results, were well up on the 2020 year-to-date trend,” he said.

“These positive results across all heavy vehicle segments are most likely due to the ongoing financial benefits of the federal government’s instant asset write-off incentive, that operators can leverage.”

Mr McMullan said that industry lobbying has led to the federal government announcing in the budget that the $150,000 cap was to be removed and the scheme extended until June 30, 2022.

On the virus and its effect on the Victorian truck industry, Mr McMullan said while the state came out of an almost four-month lockdown in October “this likely had no positive effect on new truck sales, for the month just past, due to the lag time taken from truck order, body fit-out, to registration and customer delivery.”

“The easing of restrictions in Victoria was pleasing for residents and should have a positive effect on new truck sales in November and December, furthering sales gains as the year closes out,” he said.

In the heavy and medium-duty segments, sales were down in October compared with the same month last year but the TIC reported that they were still “well ahead” of the year-to-date sales trend in 2020.

However, the month’s light duty truck and van segments were above October 2019 and ahead of the sales average of 2020.

“Year-to-date sales across all segments are down 12.0 per cent, however when looking at the month of October in isolation, sales on average were down just 2.3 per cent over October 2019,” the TIC reported.

“This is a significantly better result particularly considering that sales in Victoria have been soft due to the 112-day COVID-19 lockdown.”

The decline in heavy-duty truck sales in October compared with the same month in 2019 resulted in a fall of 6.1 per cent, representing 66 fewer heavy-truck sales.

However, the October sales were up significantly relative to the 2020 yearly average which is running at negative 20.3 per cent year-to-date for the HD truck segment.

The TIC said 8440 heavy-duty trucks have been delivered in 2020, down by 2146 trucks on the 10,586 sold to the end of October 2019.

“However, the trend is looking positive for the remainder of this year with many truck OEMs reporting a solid order bank for November and December,” the council said.

Year-to-date medium-duty truck sales were down 14.3 per cent on average with 5372 trucks sold compared with 6267 vehicles in 2019. However as with the heavy-duty segment, medium-duty truck sales in October were stronger, with 536 MD trucks delivered, down only 58 over October 2019.

The light-duty truck sales scraped into positive territory in October when compared with October sales last year.

In October, 934 light-duty trucks were sold for the month, four more than October 2019. That was a 0.4 per cent improvement over the 2019 October result.

Year-to-date, the light-truck segment is down on average 5.9 per cent with sales of 8934 trucks this year compared with 9497 in the same period in 2019, a difference of 563 units.

The TIC said that the least affected of all the truck segments in 2020 was the light-duty van sector which recorded sales in October that were up 10.2 per cent for the month with 528 vans sold, an increase of 49 over the 479 sold in October 2019.

Year-to-date, the light-duty van segment trails 2019 sales by 208 units (down 3.9 per cent), with 5078 vans delivered in 2020, compared with 5282 van sales to the end of October 2019.