The South African new-truck market continued its steady decline in 2017, dropping by 2.65% to 25 042 units, compared with the 27 011 units sold in 2016.
The new-truck market reached 30 469 units in 2015 and 31 554 units in 2014.
The extra-heavy commercial vehicle segment was the only truck market segment to record growth in 2017, increasing by 0.96% to 11 967 units.
Sales in the heavy commercial vehicle segment were down by 4.76% to 5290 units, with a 6.37% decline recorded in the medium commercial vehicle segment to 7785 units.
Total truck export sales from South Africa declined by 5.54% in 2017 to 946 units.
UD Trucks Southern Africa marketing director Rory Schulz says the most significant decline in the 2017 new-truck market was in the smaller vehicle segments, which is an indication of a slowdown in the general economy.
However, as the South African economy is expected to pick up from its 0.8% economic growth in 2017 to an expected 1.1% in 2018, the outlook is for a “generally better year” in terms of truck sales, with segments such as distribution returning to the market.
Operators have been sweating their assets over the last few years, which prolongs the replacement cycle, says UD Trucks Southern Africa MD Gert Swanepoel.
Where operators would typically replace their trucks at 700 000 km, they now do so at one-million kilometres, he notes.
The expectation is that the replacement cycle will kick in again in 2018.
“With recent political changes in mind, we are hopeful that business confidence will return to more positive levels, which will certainly encourage businesses to invest in their fleets,” notes Swanepoel.
“Gross fixed capital formation or, the rate at which businesses add fixed assets such as plant, machinery and equipment to their inventories, has seen an upturn to 4.3% during the third quarter of 2017, with 37% attributed to the acquisition of new transport equipment – certainly a good sign for the truck industry.
“Locally, we are forecasting a slight 1.5% growth in [new-truck] sales during the year to come for a total truck market of an estimated 25418 new units [in 2018].”
Growth is anticipated in all three truck segments.
Swanepoel also expects 2018 to be a better year in terms of exports.
“We expect sales to increase during 2018, forecasting growth across all segments for a total sales estimate of about 990 units."
UD Trucks Southern Africa recorded sales of about 2 300 units last year.
The aim is to grow sales by about 3% in 2018, says Schulz, driven by the continued optimisation of the brand’s model line-up, plus a full year of the Croner badge in the sales fleet.
The UD Trucks brand is on the comeback trail after “a terrible 2016”, says Swanepoel.
“We needed to fix stuff, to get back to our customers. It was a huge challenge to stand up and fight back. In the end, 2017 was a good year for us.”