April 2015

Trends in Japan’s Standard Truck Market - Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2014 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) has released the results of its standard truck market trends survey conducted in fiscal 2014 (ending March 31, 2015).

JAMA’s survey of trends in Japan’s standard truck market is conducted once every two years to monitor the status of standard truck ownership, purchases, patterns of use, changes in transport needs and responses thereto, and other market-related trends.  The fiscal 2014 survey also strove to elucidate:
- Initiatives to reduce fuel consumption;
- The current status of and outlook for truck driver supply; and
- Initiatives to increase safety.

Survey results clarified the following trends in the areas indicated.

  • Business climate

The freight transport industry has been positively impacted by the apparent improvement in business conditions, on the strength of Japan’s recent economic recovery, for users of freight carrier services.  While signs of a pickup in the business climate have been evident since 2008, those signs became more pronounced in 2014.

  • Demand for new trucks

The increase in the consumption tax (Japan’s national sales tax) that went into effect in April 2014 caused vehicle sales to surge in last-minute buying ahead of the tax hike and, as a consequence, to drop subsequent to the hike.  Still, demand for new standard trucks has been on an overall upward trend since bottoming out in 2009, and the number of standard trucks in use is also seeing a recovery after bottoming out in 2012.

  • Status of truck operations

Although the average truck-loading and deadheading rates were basically unchanged from the rates recorded in the previous survey in fiscal 2012, increases were reported in both the number of hours and the number of days of vehicle operation.  Longer periods of vehicle ownership remained a continuing trend.

  • Initiatives to reduce fuel consumption

-The leading issue cited with regard to truck transport was “higher fuel costs,” reflecting the surge in fuel prices, with “good fuel efficiency” remaining the number-one criterion for truck purchasers.
-Freight carriers are addressing the need for “good fuel efficiency” with the use of digital tachometers, expanded driver training, group purchases of fuel, and other strategic measures.

  • Status of and outlook for truck driver shortages

In addition to Japan’s structural labor shortage, revisions in 2007 to the driver licensing system have also had an impact on the supply of drivers for freight transport.  As a result, the freight transport industry has seen rapid increases in driver shortages and in the average age of truck drivers.  Five-year forward projections showed continued rising concern over such shortages, indicating that freight carriers are urgently seeking effective solutions to this challenge.

  • Initiatives to increase safety

-The freight transport industry is advancing the installation in standard trucks of safety support systems and equipment, including telematics technology and drive recorders.
-The survey also revealed a growing awareness among users of freight carrier services of the need for such safety-enhancing measures.

More detailed information on the results of this survey is available, in Japanese only, on the JAMA Web site (http://www.jama.or.jp).