Truckies Still Fighting High Fuel Prices, Low Profits

Isuzu Australia has released new independent research showing tightening profit margins and rising fuel prices are the top challenges facing transport operators.

In addition to these traditional issues, Isuzu Australia Director and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Harbison said the study, ‘The Future of Trucking Report: The Way Forward’, showed new trends are emerging.

“There’s no doubt that our industry is on the cusp of transformation, especially in relation to technological and regulatory change,” said Harbison. “An important goal of this year’s report was to identify and monitor emerging and entrenched trends, and to look at how operators are navigating these within the Australian truck industry.

“The second instalment of the study uses this critical lens to delve into these issues, with the intent of better understanding overall industry sentiment, evolving technology systems, as well as procurement and maintenance requirements.

“Pleasingly, our updated findings paint a confident picture of a strong and proactive sector ready to grapple with these challenges head-on.”

THE FINDINGS

Isuzu Australia summarised the report by breaking it down into five different segments:

  • Business Sentiment: The Australian truck industry is expected to evolve rapidly in the coming three years. Tighter profit margins and rising fuel prices are currently the top business and truck fleet challenges faced by Australian transport operators. The national freight task continues to grow, although growth expectations are bullish from previous findings.
  • Procurement: Across the Australian truck parc, the average tenure of new truck ownership remains at six years. Concurrently, the purchase preference for pre-built OEM vehicles as an alternative to custom-built trucks has increased for Australian businesses. The evaluation of new truck ‘total cost of ownership’ continues to be the primary driver of purchase over initial upfront pricing, with this approach having increased since previous findings.
  • Technology and Safety: Data reveals that the market continues to be motivated by increasing safety standards, with bolstering safety the number one reason for adopting new truck technology. In the next five years, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and electronic stability control are some of the key safety technologies business are looking to adopt, with active (autonomous) safety features available in new model trucks being more widely adopted by larger fleets and government operators.
  • Electric Vehicles: Australian fleets have indicated a strong appetite for the adoption of zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles, though the timescale for introduction remains mixed. Perceptions continue to improve surrounding the current suitability of electric trucks and supporting charging infrastructure, with participants earmarking electric vehicles as a key solution to Australia’s transport future in the next 10 to 15 years.
  • Truck Maintenance: Industry awareness and action on chain of responsibility (CoR) compliance remains unchanged from previous findings, with three out of 10 operators unaware of CoR or without policies to comply. Businesses also indicated a preference for completing major truck repairs at OEM dealerships (including parts and componentry), citing workmanship, timeliness, or service and availability of parts as key factors.

John Walker, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at Isuzu Australia and Project Lead for The Future of Trucking reports, said the findings point to the “innate resilience” across the sector. ​

“Be it regulatory, societal or technological, a key theme emerging from the report is that change within our sector is as constant as it is ongoing,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, our latest report shows significant positivity about the overall position of the road transport sector. We trust that this ongoing research project will arm and assist strategic thinking and decision-making within our industry.”

Isuzu Australia said the report documents findings by more than 1,300 survey respondents from transport operators, including prominent general freight and last mile delivery fleets to construction, government, health and other niche industry sectors.