in buoyant light truck market
Our in-depth analysis of the New Zealand light commercial vehicle market in 2017. Who were the big winners?
FUSO’S CANTER WAS NEW ZEALAND’S BEST-SELLING light-duty truck in 2017, holding off a strong late year challenge from former market leader, the Isuzu N-series. Fuso sold 565 Canters during the year, to Isuzu’s 516 N-series, giving the Mitsubishi brand a lead of 49.
That was a major turn-around from 2016 when Isuzu absolutely dominated the market with 566 registrations; Fuso was second with 218 Canters sold – just three more than rival brand Hino’s 300 series light truck. Hino 300 registrations last year totalled 238.
Between them the two market leaders sold 1081 trucks last year, 23 more trucks than the total for the entire segment in 2016.
Last year the overall light-duty truck market of 1379 was 321 registrations ahead of 2016, an increase of roughly 31 percent which underlines the buoyancy of the segment.
The total also reflects the solid marketing and sales performance delivered by the newly-formed Fuso New Zealand which took over distribution of the brand from Mitsubishi New Zealand at the end of 2016.
Fuso NZ increased Canter sales by just over 60 percent during 2017.
The company says that In its first calendar year of trading, it smashed the previous record for Fuso truck and bus sales in NZ by more than 20 percent, registering 1017 units across all truck segments.
Over the previous five years, Fuso truck and bus sales averaged 540 a year, and the previous sales record of 787 was set in 2014.
Last year, Fuso achieved a 17.6 percent share of the market – a 99.8 percent increase on its 2016 position.
“We didn’t head out to set the world on fire,” says managing director Kurtis Andrews. “Our main goal for the year was to develop a business that would allow Fuso trucks to realise their potential in New Zealand – thanks to our highly experienced and passionate dealer network, the foundation was already in place.
“There has been a massive amount of work put in at Fuso NZ, and by our dealers, to build our team and operations from the ground
up, so to sell 1017 trucks against that background is testament to the effort that went in and the potential the business has.”
Fuso has also beefed up its parts division. “We now carry over 8000 stock items in our parts inventory,” says Andrews. “Previously, only around 3000 Fuso parts were available off the shelf in New Zealand; anything else had to be airfreighted, which often led to unsatisfactory delays. Our off-the-shelf parts order fill rate is now at 96 percent.”
Andrews says Fuso is looking for more expansion as 2018 unfolds. “Now we’re set up, we’re in a position to focus on selling trucks and continuing to deliver better for our customers.
“We’ve got some exciting products landing in 2018, and we’re all pretty excited about the opportunities they’ll bring,” he adds.
Isuzu dominated the overall new truck market in New Zealand last year, coming out on top for the 18th year in a row.
“Since the year 2000, Isuzu Trucks has been the top selling truck brand in New Zealand, which is an unprecedented achievement,” says Isuzu general manager, Colin Muir.
“There are very few brands in the entire automotive industry, even considering a global perspective, which can claim such dominance.”
Isuzu achieved 1305 registrations across all truck segments during the year, which is a new record. Muir says Isuzu held a 25.6 percent share of the new truck market. “The quality, performance and all-round durability of Isuzu trucks has contributed to this ongoing success, as has a dealer network which is really stepping up in terms of exceeding customer expectations.”
Muir is upbeat about the future. “Prospects for Isuzu Trucks are very bright, a sentiment shared by many of the Isuzu Master Truck dealers who have invested heavily in the future of the brand including new or significantly upgraded facilities and growing staff numbers...
“We’re really excited about our prospects heading into 2018... We have every confidence we can continue this remarkable run of form.”
In the light-duty segment, Hino was the only other brand to achieve three-digit sales figures in 2017. Its 300 series sales of 238 were around 10 percent higher than its 2016 results.
Hyundai’s all-new Mighty was the year’s fourth biggest seller. Previewed at the 2016 Fieldays and launched at the THE Expo last March, the Mighty is a big improvement on the previous HD series trucks the brand marketed here.
They sold in very small numbers and were retailed at fire-sale prices during their final months; Hyundai NZ moved six HD75S in 2017 and 35 the year before. It also sold 14 HD65S in 2016.
Though Mighty sales started slowly, by December 31, Hyundai NZ had retailed 25.
Chinese brand Foton was relaunched during 2017 after Foton NZ, part of Hamilton’s Ebbett Group, took over distributorship of the Aumark light truck and Tunland ute from Ateco.
The Aumark was off the market for several months while Foton NZ worked on final local spec and model range; once that was done, 13 were registered in the final months of the year, five of them in December.
Foton NZ is understood to have strong forward orders for the well-priced trucks, with at least one fleet moving over from a Japanese brand.
And that, basically, was the light-duty market in 2017. Completing the total were seven light-duty versions of Fuso’s Fighter, one Isuzu F-series and one Chinese Jac.
December sales figures showed the Isuzu N-series in command with 75 registrations to the Fuso Canter’s 56. Hino moved twentyfive 300s, Foton sold five Aumarks and the only other light-duty truck registrations for the month were three Hyundai Mightys.
Fuso’s Canter was NZ’S best-selling light truck last year.
Foton Aumark returned to NZ market last year and sales are gathering momentum.
Left: Isuzu N-series came back strongly after Canter set early lead. Right top: Hino 300 took the third podium spot last year. Right below: Hyundai Mighty is still establishing itself after being launched in 2017.