EXCLUSIVE: East-west divide drives buying decisions


Although bus deliveries are down, there could be a cross-Australia pattern emerging of speculation in the west and a creeping conservatism in the east

EXCLUSIVE: East-west divide drives buying decisions
<b><font color=red>EXCLUSIVE:</b></font> East-west divide drives buying decisions

November 10, 2010

There have been some significant changes in the chassis delivery landscape since this time last year.

In 2009 business was booming, even in the face of the GFC, with Federal Government tax incentives and a range of ‘growth bus strategies’, particularly in NSW providing a good October 2009 result.

But economic landscapes can change quickly and with stimulus measures having substantially dried up since it appears the industry has settled on a baseline of ‘supply and demand’ dictating business.

One might think that with public transport patronage figures rising, demand would also rise, but this is not reflected in supply, with a relatively low 118 vehicles delivered across Australia last month, compared with 153 at the same time last year.

Looking specifically at NSW and that state’s 2009 growth bus strategy, the effects of its wind up is clear. While NSW leads the way over the past month with 37 percent of vehicles delivered nationally to that state, 12 months ago, the month of October saw half – 50 percent – of all large passenger bus and coaches being placed in the ‘premier’ state.

Although it still leads the vehicle count for October 2010, that 13 percent difference has gone elsewhere, notably to Western Australia – the mining boom state – which recorded an 11 percent rise from 14 percent to 23 percent of all vehicle deliveries over the past month.

As recently reported, the mining industry is acting as a stimulus for growth in the west – another change in the economic landscape since 2009 with another three Ivecos going to the KJVG.

But it’s not mining alone that has added to the WA result, with Transperth acquiring a batch of nine Mercedes-Benz O 500LE chassis under Volgren bodies. And be prepared to see Volgren over Volvo hitting Perth streets in the coming months with the WA Government’s announcement this month of a deal that sees this combination assembled locally at Malaga.

By sheer weight of numbers, NSW leads but with WA ranking second – delivering into a broad mix of mining, government-run service, and private route and tour operations – the east coast suppliers may start returning from Perth on the ‘red eye express’ with plenty of signatures in their order books.

So 118 units doesn’t look too bright, but there is business to be done, and it might also come from smaller operators looking for quality.

The larger established suppliers – Mercedes-Benz, Scania and MAN – all recorded a higher than usual number of one-off deliveries to smaller operators over the past month, dipping into a market the Asian suppliers have dominated for that past 12 months. Whether it’s a sign of things to come as conservatism creeps back into the market should be known over the next year, unless there is another government-led stimulus plan that throws any trend line to measure against hitting this theory for six.

The lead chassis supplier Volvo appears not to have gone down this route, but when you are the industry leader supplying large operations on a regular basis, there may be no need to dig as hard.

November issue of ABC gives a comprehensive breakdown of October deliveries.

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