The truck-buying market remains in a state of flux. On the face of it, new truck registrations started the year in a positive manner. Comparing Q1 2018 to Q1 2019, new truck registrations were up 21.2% – from 9,785 units to 11,859 units. Rigids were up 12.9%; artics were up a staggering 32.3%. So far, so good. This type of upturn has only been seen in the past during periods of economic recovery or legislative change. But what has changed?
The truth is, nothing changed. And that is the problem. Business was busy preparing for Britain’s exit from the European Union on 31 March and, without even the barest hint of what trading conditions would look like after this deadline, stockpiled to avoid tariffs should the UK’s trading relationship with its largest partner revert to WTO rules under a no-deal Brexit.
The RHA reported that tariffs on an imported vehicle (and the majority of new trucks are vehicles imported from the EU) would be 22% for anything above 5-tonne GVW. So there is every chance that operators in need of a truck registered them before the blown Brexit date. The industry awaits the publication of the second quarter sales figures for confirmation.
Despite the uncertainty there appears to be pent-up demand for new vehicles. But just how are operators buying such vehicles?
There are a variety of options available – outright purchase, contract hire, operating lease or rental. Or maybe just taking advantage of the available stocks in the used market – where Euro-5 prices are subdued as demand slows thanks to the multitude of clean air and low emission zones cropping up across the country.
This research, conducted exclusively by Commercial Motor and Motor Transport, in association with Asset Alliance Group; Hireco; MAN Financial Services; Renault Trucks, Scania Financial Services and Volvo Trucks UK, shows how operators engage with the market when it comes to adding and replacing trucks on the fleet.
It also points towards two alarming trends developing in 2019 – firstly, a drop in appetite among truck operators compared to last year, and then the shrinking use of the used truck market, which finds itself increasingly polarised to one customer set, the small and micro-business. It also points towards just how diverse the market is and how vendors will have to adapt in the long-term to customers wants and needs.
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