Australian heavy vehicle market still slow

The Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association’s (ARTSA) sixth quarterly heavy vehicle registration report has indicated a slight improvement in business activity after a dramatic Q1 drop. But, a full-fledged recovery is still not in sight.

According to ARTSA, prime mover registrations in Q2 were still “well below” the equivalent quarter in 2014, although heavy rigid trucks were slightly up year-on-year.

“New registrations for trailers are also slow compared with Q2 2014 and have not recovered to the levels achieved during 2014,” said ARTSA Chief Executive Rob Perkins – adding that the slight improvement seen in Q2 could be more of a “dead cat bounce” than a solid turnaround.

“New registrations for all heavy vehicles – including prime movers, heavy rigids, buses, special purpose vehicles and trailers – have been in a band of 6000 to 7500 units per quarter for the last year ,” he explained.

“Q1 2015 then saw the number drop to just under 5000 units – a significant reduction in new registrations compared with recent history. Now the numbers have gone up to just over 6000 units again – so it’s still around 1000 units below the long-term average.”

According to Perkins, to get a complete picture of market activity, it’s also important to include retirements into the equation: “Retired heavy vehicles – i.e. those removed from the registration database – have typically been in a band of 3000 to 3500 units per quarter,” he said.

“Q1 2015 has then seen them spike to around 4500 units, and they have since remain over the 4000 mark, so there’s still a lot of gear parked in the yard.”

The net result, said Perkins, was a total gain of nearly 2000 units in Q2. “This is well below the typical net gain during 2014 of 3000 to 4000 units per quarter and suggests a sustained slow down in heavy vehicle freight activity in the first half of 2015.”

A free report summary can be downloaded here.

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