SMMT: tractors up, rigids down ahead of Euro-6

The UK truck market is looking increasingly polarised as the latest registrations data compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows tractor unit numbers surging but interest in rigid trucks slumping.

The number of new tractor units registered in July leapt by 40.6% compared with the same month last year. Bringing the year-to-date total up to 9,353, this means forecasts of a pre-Euro-6 spike in registrations this year are set to be proved correct, with tractor unit volumes running 6.4% ahead of last year. There appears to be a minor revival in interest in two-axle tractors; their year-to-date numbers are up by 16.5%, compared with growth of 4.6% for three-axle tractors.  

But the picture is very different in the rigid truck sector, where the number of trucks above 6 tonnes GVW registered in the first seven months of the year is 12.4% behind last year’s figure at this point. This confounds the forecasts of a stronger market and is putting bodybuilders, already dealing with the expense of preparing for whole vehicle type approval, under further pressure.

Amalgamating the two sectors leaves the market for all trucks of over 6 tonnes GVW up by 11.2% in July but 5.0% down for the year so far. The SMMT believes that the upward trend seen in June and July will continue until the end of the year, delivering the expected growth in the market before Euro-6 takes effect on 1 January next, forcing up new truck prices.

The strength of the tractor market has doubtless contributed to Scania’s strong performance so far this year; its total registrations are up by 18.6%. Iveco’s figures are up by 4.1%; Volvo’s are flat, and all the rest are down. Market-leader Daf, so dominant in the rigid market, is feeling the downturn in that sector and so its overall registration figures have slipped more than most, down by 14.1% in the year so far.