Credit: Trailer Interview March 2017
After a lengthy period of lacklustre growth, Australia’s highly contested transport equipment market is on the road to recovery.
Backing up a strong finish to 2016, the Truck Industry Council (TIC) reported solid growth for both January and February, making for the best start of a year in almost a decade.
“Even though it may take another month or two to see just how healthy the market is, the stage is set for a positive market development going into the final quarter of 2016-17,” explained CRTNews expert, Peter Shields.
“If heavy truck sales continue to stabilise, the recovery should also trickle down to trailer building, a segment which doesn’t report official sales data.”
Spurred by the launch of a new Kenworth model in December 2016 and the imminent return of the International brand, Shields said the overall market is currently more buoyant than it was in a long time, but added, “we will likely see winners and losers emerge after a busy Q2 and Q3”.
“With International coming to market and Hyundai’s announcement of a Korean-made heavy-duty model, the question is whether the new kids on the block will contribute to growing the overall market or whether they will take market share from incumbent brands,” he explained.
“CAT Trucks will likely be the most prominent victim, but Western Star is also under pressure. The market has changed and customers are more demanding than ever before – only the most innovative will survive.”
Shields added he sees “a lot of competition brewing” on the trailer front, especially in the tanker category, which was shaken by the failure and subsequent re-emergence of the Tieman brand last year.
“I think both CIMC and Schmitz Cargobull have proven that there is a business case for well-engineered equipment from overseas, even in a very localised and brand-loyal marketplace.
“Tanker design is becoming increasingly sophisticated, which is why I see potential for a similar development here.”
According to Shields, South African manufacturer, GRW, is one likely candidate to break into the Australian market in 2017. “The company has had a bit of a soft launch at the 2016 Melbourne Truck Show with a really well designed aluminium model, so I assume we haven’t seen the last of it.”
Shields: “Distracted by the double-dissolution election last year and the political vacuum that followed, people forget how much innovation was on show in Melbourne.
“The GRW product certainly was a standout to me. With the market picking up, I can see more opportunities for the brand here as people are looking for smart equipment at a reasonable price point. That’s also why Hyundai is so optimistic, and why Hino will have a good run with the new 500 series in the rigid space.
“As such, 2017 could see the first big market reshuffle in a long time across all categories – with tankers one likely target.”