Heavy truck market strong in January registrations

Last year’s strong growth in the UK truck market has continued into 2012, with January registrations of new trucks six tonnes GVW and over up by 49% on the same month last year.

But the data, from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), shows that the commercial vehicle market is patchy. Registrations of new vans, from car-derived models to 3.5 tonners, have faltered, down by 16%, following news that the economy had shrunk in the final quarter of last year and likely to slow again in the first quarter of 2012.

Most of the growth in the truck market is coming from rigid chassis, which lagged behind the booming tractor unit sector last year. They finally are showing signs of a strong upturn, with registration of rigid chassis with gross weights of over 6 tonnes up by 110% in January. In contrast, the surge in the tractor units seems to be slowing, with registrations up by just 6%.

“The commercial vehicle market got off to a mixed start in January,” comments SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt. “Over the course of 2012 SMMT expects the CV market to be steady, ending the year marginally up on 2011. Government support for business will be key to maintaining market stability. If confidence can be maintained through the year, we should see growth in 2013.”

Imperial Commercials buys four Watts Truck Centre sites

Imperial Commercials, the largest independent CV dealer group in the UK, has expanded its operation with a share purchase of four sites belonging to DAF Trucks dealer Watts Truck Centre.

Sites at Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester and Yate take Imperial Commercials to 30 dealerships across the UK.

Imperial Commercials MD Ian Oakes says Watts is a well respected DAF and Fiat Professional franchise operation and a great fit within Imperial’s existing franchises in the West of England.

Part of the deal will see Watts build a state-of-the-art dealership on 2.5 acres at Hempsted Lane, Gloucester for Imperial Commercials over the next two years.

Watts became Imperial’s landlord in March 2011 when it acquired the site from haulier Joseph Rice & Sons when they called it a day, three years after Imperial bought the parts and service operation Joseph Rice Truck Services from the transport company.

Imperial will relocate from Hempsted Lane to Watts’ site at Mercia Road, Gloucester while the construction takes place.

John Thurston, Watts Group chairman, says the deal will enable the group to better focus its effort and resources on the remaining Watts Truck Centre sites at Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.

“We are pleased to be building a new dealership for Imperial on our Hempsted Lane site which should provide outstanding levels of service to Gloucestershire businesses,” he says.