DAF Trucks 2020 Model Lineup
DAF Trucks 2020 Model Lineup

DAF Trucks, runaway UK market leader for the last 25 years, has achieved their best year in terms of market share ever last year.

With a share over 30% of the UK’s new truck market over 6 tonnes GVW, (30.5%) the company narrowly beat their own 2016 record by just half of a percent.  Still a record is a record, regardless of how narrow the margin is!

DAF may well benefit further in a post Brexit world, as the vast majority of DAF vehicles for the UK market are built at Leyland Trucks in Lancashire. In addition to trucks built for the UK market, the factory exported more than 7,000 trucks abroad to no fewer than 51 countries.  So whilst the company is notionally Dutch with US ownership (PACCAR Inc.) a UK truck operator buying a DAF can do so in the knowledge that UK Plc will also benefit.

Larger Share of a Smaller Market

In terms of the numbers of trucks sold, last year was still a little behind DAF’s record way back in 1988.  The market was a different beast back then.  Efficiencies in transport and increasing payloads has meant that the UK truck market size has dwindled from 68,000 at the end of the 1980s to just over 48,000.  So, with almost 15,000 trucks registered (14,814) in 2019, DAF was only marginally behind their previous record by less than 1,000 trucks.

2019 – A Good Year for Truck Sales

All forecasts at the beginning of the year were that the UK would be in the doldrums as far as new truck registrations were concerned.  Most industry experts, including the manufacturers, were forecasting just 41,000 registrations.  The final results were some 20% higher than this at 48,500.  This makes last year the third highest in the last decade – notwithstanding the whole Brexit fiasco and ensuing political and economic uncertainty.

Maybe it was the ‘B’ word that caused these increases in part.  Worries about price increases of chassis in a tariff-laden post Brexit crash out in March 2019 and October 2019 meant that canny operators were pulling orders of new trucks forward.  This is a phenomenon that we have seen many times prior to the introduction of a new technology or emissions standard – at Euro 6 in 2013, for example.

An example of technology playing a part could be seen to some degree in 2019 as SMART tachos were introduced for new trucks in July and operators ordered early to avoid this.

The triple whammy as far as ordering early came with the introduction of London’s ULEZ which meant that operators had to pull forward orders of Euro 6 trucks to ensure a charge-free entry into the zone.

DAF Trucks Managing Director, Laurence Drake told us, “The best products and services are developed through close cooperation with end-users. We rely on those relationships; with customers who tell us what we do right, and perhaps more importantly, what we do wrong. This dialogue enables us to develop and deliver products and services that meet the market’s ever-changing requirements.”

Laurence Drake DAF MD
A great time to be the new MD at DAF Trucks – Laurence Drake

What’s in store for 2020?

DAF are cautious about their forecast for 2020 – as with their 2019 forecast, they are erring on the side of caution with a low forecast of around 40,000 units above 6 tonnes GVW.  We agree that whilst the political uncertainty is behind us, the trade negotiations may still make the UK’s truck buyers jittery.