The recent release of VFACTS half year national vehicle sales data, provides an ideal opportunity to review the state of the heavy commercial vehicle marketplace.
Heavy commercial vehicle sales for the first half of 2014 are down 7.1% compared to the same period in 2013, the declining results reflect the highly challenging global environment currently facing this sector. These pressures are particularly impacting the medium duty truck segment, with just 3,686 vehicles sold so far in 2014 - a 13.9% year on year decline.
Manufacturers are at a significant crossroads, searching for both srategies that can differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace and the changes that are necessary to underpin their continued success beyond this period of flux.
Considering the future of the industry, it is worth revisiting some of the core themes of the Truck 2020: Transcending Turbulence report, which was released around 5 years ago. Two key elements are highlighted:
- Redesigning all elements of the customer experience to focus more directly on end user needs, and
- Increasing the integration of technological improvements into trucks, moving to an overarching ecosystem that can support the vehicles throughout their entire working life.
Taking customer experience first, a leftfield look at the passenger vehicle market reveals similar challenges. However, we are beginning to see a number of OEMs turning to design thinking to create end to end customer centric experiences. For example, Audi in the USA has commissioned industrial design firm Continuum to review and refresh its dealer environment, with the ultimate goal of achieving a higher proportion of repeat business from purchasers. This recognition of the importance of the customer’s purchase and usage journey can also be applied to the trucking industry, particularly in terms of product commoditisation in the light truck segment and the significant technological shift that is taking place.
Telematics is the key element that ties together technological change and customer experience and provides OEMs the opportunity to differentiate and deliver fully integrated solutions that address customers core business needs.
Truck manufacturers are beginning to introduce their telematics offerings into the Australian market place. For example, Isuzu's most recent campaigns promoting the benefits of their systems centre on their telematics offering. And Isuzu’s commitment to innovation is certainly not hindering sales, the GX and Giga series models have helped push Isuzu to 3rd place in the heavy duty category, with an impressive 157.7% increase in sales year on year to date.
There is still significant ground to be covered before truly integrated solutions are on offer, but our automotive market research is already highlighting significant shifts in the marketplace. If you are looking for more insight on telematics adoption and compliance have a look at our latest report by clicking on the button below.
ACA Research can support businesses looking to leverage these opportunities, through our expertise in the automotive sector and our in-house customer experience design consultants. Please contact us if you would like to arrange an exploratory conversation to discuss this or any other needs you might have. Otherwise, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, In The Headlights, for all the latest automotive research and insights.