Daf truck at Millbrook

Operators are more optimistic about their vehicle acquisition strategy in 2015 than they were in 2014, predicting that more new vehicles will be bought this year compared with last year.

The findings of the 2015 Overview of the Commercial Vehicle Industry report, produced by MT publisher Road Transport Media on behalf of Texaco and in association with Continental, found that operators of 51 or more vehicles plan to acquire an average of 79 vehicles in 2015, up from an average of 65 vehicles acquired in 2014.

This optimism filters down to medium-sized hauliers (running between 26 and 50 vehicles) that intend to purchase an average of 5.3 vehicles this year – compared with 3.6 vehicles taken on in 2014.

The survey of 500 operators accounted for a combined fleet of 74,000 trucks, an average of 148 per operator. On average, the total sample predicted buying 30 vehicles in the 12 months ahead, up from the 26 new vehicles acquired in 2014.

Digging deeper, the report also found that 57% of all vehicles in the sample were Euro-5, up from 48% when the survey was conducted at the end of 2013.

However, the headway Euro-6 has made is remarkable, considering the scare stories regarding the premium attached to the purchase price and running costs of such vehicles. From a marginal 1% penetration of UK operator fleets in 2012, it has jumped to 6% in 2013 and now accounts for 9% of all vehicles run by UK operators.

Unsurprisingly, the popularity of Euro-3 and Euro-4 is diminishing: Euro-3 fell from 15% penetration in 2013 to 10% in 2014, while Euro-4 fell from 31% in 2013 to 24% in 2014, albeit still accounting for one in every four vehicles on the road. Larger operators are more likely to run Euro-5, at 59%, compared with 44% in medium-sized operators and 39% in small operators (5 to 25 vehicles).

The most popular marque is Daf (30%), followed by Mercedes-Benz (19%) – roughly reflective of new truck registration trends over recent years.

While Euro-6 had a considerable effect on vehicle purchases in 2014, the survey also showed it could have been a lot greater. Almost half (44%) of operators said that Euro-6 had had no effect whatsoever on their vehicle acquisition strategies, while over a fifth of the market (22%) said they had pulled forward buying cycles to avoid Euro-6 vehicles.