The global decline in heavy commercial vehicles mirrors the soft economic environment in select countries, according to Polk.
"It's increasingly important for commercial vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to evaluate the global market from a larger perspective as they expand their businesses in other regions," says Gary Meteer, account director for commercial vehicle solutions. "We've seen increased interest from customers in global statistics and analysis on the state of the market in regions around the world."
Polk estimates global registrations based on an assessment of the top 30 countries which account for approximately 98% of the total global market for heavy commercial vehicles (traditionally defined as 3.5 metric tons or greater).
China and India have represented the two largest markets for heavy commercial vehicle registrations since 2010 and accounted for nearly 58% of the global market during the first quarter of 2012. However, first quarter performance showed China registrations decreased 18.2% from first quarter 2011 volumes, while the commercial vehicle market in India grew 5.1% since the 1Q 2011.
A closer look at these two markets identified several trends during the quarter. First, standard rigid trucks were the most registered heavy commercial vehicles in both markets. Specifically in China, nearly 6.2% of the new heavy commercial vehicles were classified as buses or van-derived buses, while 15.4% in India were classified in this manner. Also, tractors in China accounted for approximately 14% of new sales during the first quarter of 2012 versus just 2.6% in India.
Based on Polk's analysis, JAC Motors was the leading manufacturer of heavy commercial vehicles in China during the first quarter of 2012, with 15.2% of the market, while Dongfeng followed closely with 15.2%.
In India, Tata Motors was the leading manufacturer of heavy commercial vehicles, with 59% share, followed by Ashok Leyland with 21.5% share of the market.
For light commercial vehicles (traditionally defined as 3.5 metric tons or less), new retail registrations were down 5.6% in China compared to the first quarter of 2011. In India, light commercial vehicle registrations were up 33.3% over the same period last year.
In markets with more than 10,000 new retail registrations during the first quarter of this year, the largest year-over-year increases were achieved in Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, while South Korea and Germany both experienced declines. The segment's performance in Brazil remained steady with 2011 first quarter levels.