BIRMINGHAM, AL. Executives with Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) and Mack Trucks – both subsidiaries of the Sweden-based Volvo Group – continue to expect Class 8 sales to finish 2016 down from 2015 levels, with that decline to continue on into 2017.
By contrast, however, demand for construction trucks remains strong, according to Jonathan Randall, the newly-installed senior vice president for Mack – he’s been with the OEM for six months – with the construction truck segment size climbing from 11% of the market based on year-to-date numbers through August 2015 in the U.S. and Canada to 14% based on year-to-date data through August of this year, with further “segment expansion” expected in 2017.
“This is for 10-liter engine equipped construction trucks and above,” Randall emphasized. “This is right in our wheelhouse and represents a strong opportunity for Mack.”
Yet overall Class 8 truck market demand will continue to shrink, he pointed out during a press event here to provide an in-depth look at the company’s Uptime Centers program.
Randall said Class 8 demand is expected to fall to 240,000 units by the end of this year, compared to 301,740 units in 2015, and decline further to 215,000 units in 2017.
He also believes demand for over-the-road tractors will keep shrinking as a percentage of the overall Class 8 sales market as well.
Jeff Lester, VTNA’s senior vice president, offered a similar outlook for the Class 8 market, expected total Class 8 demand to end 2016 at 240,000 units and dropping to 215,000 units in 2017.
“We’re seeing continued high inventory-to-sales ratios across the economy, leading to flat manufacturing rates and reduced freight volumes,” he said.
Lester added that the long-haul portion of Class 8 demand is projected to continue shrinking from just over 50% of the market in 2015 to 45% this year and next. Demand in the regional segment is expected to remain flat, though demand for construction trucks expected to continue growing.
Mack’s Randall added that the OEM plans to make its GuardDog Connect service a standard feature on its LR and MR low-entry cabover truck models equipped MP engines starting in the first quarter of next year.
“I love our iron – I think it’s gorgeous – but we recognize it is also a means to an end for our customer,” he explained.
“Uptime support is as important for our refuse customers as our highway customers,” noted Curtis Dorwart, Mack’s refuse product marketing manager, in a separate statement.
“Uptime is a must-have for all of our customers, and refuse customers are no exception,” he added. “Offering GuardDog Connect enables us to provide the same high level of service and support to all Mack-powered vehicles in our lineup, addressing the needs of all customers, in all applications.”