Here at the top of 2007, the long predicted pre-buy of Class 8 trucks is evident in the sales figures. October 2006 sales in the U.S. totaled 25,069 as compared to 22,335 in October of 2005, according to Ward's Automotive Group (www.WardsAuto.com). January through October, Class 8 sales were a solid 12.6% ahead of 2005.
While many buyers of heavy-duty trucks seemed determined to delay their encounter with the new technology and the higher costs of the '07 models as long as possible, their pre-buy strategy was not necessarily the strategy of choice for buyers of lighter duty trucks, however.
The total light-duty market in the U.S. for January through October 2006 was 7,287,047, down 6.6% from the same period a year ago, according to Ward's. Medium-duty sales for 2006 YTD were up, but much less than Class 8 sales, 7.4% over 2005 figures, and total truck sales for 2006 January through October were off 5.7% as compared to the same period in 2005.
“We had all anticipated that there would be a major…pre-buy, in 2006, but there wasn't,” says Todd Bloom, marketing vp for General Motors Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, a supplier of light- and medium-duty trucks. “Our own sales are up over  and we're hoping to see a very strong fourth quarter, but we still expect to have quite a number of vehicles with pre-'07 engines on dealer lots well into [the year.]
“There is a business slowdown taking place in some sectors and the price of fuel has skyrocketed,” Bloom adds. “That has been especially hard on private and vocational fleets.”
Robert J. Aquaro. vp-product assurance for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America (MFTA), also a light- and medium-duty truck supplier did not see a significant pre-buy, either. “We are not really seeing a big pre-buy,” he says. “We have a couple of customers who have bought more equipment than usual perhaps, and we had a good year generally, but I don't think it is because of the 2007 emissions standards.
“Heavy-duty buyers are truckers,” Aquaro says. “Light-duty buyers tend to see trucks as another tool they need for their business. They buy trucks when they need them. Even medium-duty buyers are not as affected by EPA '07; their focus is on other aspects of their business.
“Our model year changeover always takes place mid-year,” Aquaro adds, “and  will be no exception. The new engines will be installed beginning with our model-year '08 trucks, which will be available sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2007. There will still be model-year '07 trucks available for at least part of [this year], too, which means that our customers will have a choice as long as those trucks last.”