Wheels of business turning as truck orders up 13pc
IRELAND'S truckers and hauliers are beginning to invest in their fleets again, say the latest heavy goods vehicles statistics from the SIMI, which show that 13pc more hgvs were acquired last year than in 2011.
Last year's total sales of 1,356 also represented a significant 23.3pc increase on the 2010 total.
The increased investment in hgvs is in part an indicator that some optimism is creeping back into the stricken transport sector, but is largely a result of the need to replace worn-out vehicles that have gone unchanged since the recession kicked in.
The average working life of a truck in heavy usage has been estimated at nine years and the latest statistics by the CSO show that the bulk of the goods vehicles carrying cargos on Irish roads were registered between 2004 and 2008.
This indicates that most of the country's heavy goods vehicle fleet will have to be replaced between now and 2017, which is good news for truck dealerships at least.
Meanwhile, plant sales companies confirm that the supply of quality used vehicles available to hauliers and transport operatives in Ireland has been fast drying up, increasing prices and providing another reason for investment in new vehicles.
The brand of truck which proved most popular with new commercial vehicle buyers was Volvo, which cornered 26.3pc of the Irish market last year, an improvement of almost 10pc on 2011.
The second most popular new vehicle was Scania, which secured 21.7pc of the market compared with 15.5pc the previous year. In third place was DAF with 10pc, slipping from 13.5pc in 2011, and fifth was Mercedes, which had 9.6pc compared with 10.5pc in 2011.
At the peak of the boom, luxury vehicles like Mercedes tended to dominate the market.
The transport industry has been hit harder than most by the recession as highlighted by the demise of Target Express last year, which employed just under 400 people.
At the time the Irish Road Haulage Association claimed that it knew of at least five other transport companies which were on the edge of insolvency in the run-up to Christmas thanks to falling levels of business, squeezed margins and increasing fuel costs.
As a result of a falloff in business, the volume of goods carried by road has fallen by two-thirds since the recession started, from a peak of 299,307,000 tonnes in 2007 to just 110,260,000 tonnes in 2011, says the CSO.
Meanwhile, in contrast to HGVs, it seems that fleet owners are hanging on to medium and light goods vehicles for as long as possible.
Total sales for medium and light vehicles totalled 10,878 in 2012 compared with 11,364 in 2011, a fall of 4.4pc.
According to the SIMI, the best-selling brand of light-to-medium goods vehicle last year was Volkswagen, with 22.1pc of the market, down from 22.3pc the previous year.
Next came Ford, with 21.2pc of the market compared with 16.7 pc, followed by Renault, with 11.7pc compared with 14.6pc. The next marque was Toyota, with 9.9pc in 2011.
The top-selling models of 2012 were the VW Caddy followed by the Ford Transit and then the Renault Master.