Forecasts move up for truck sales

A strengthening economy has led to an upward revision of earlier heavy-duty truck production forecasts for both 2010 and 2011, according to the latest report from ACT Research. Closer at head, fleet buying plans for the second quarter of this year have also shown significant growth, according to CK Commercial Vehicle Research

A strengthening economy has led to an upward revision of earlier heavy-duty truck production forecasts for both 2010 and 2011, according to the latest report from ACT Research. Closer at head, fleet buying plans for the second quarter of this year have also shown significant growth, according to CK Commercial Vehicle Research.

The new release of the North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook from ACT predicts Class 8 production will reach roughly 141,000 units in 2010, a 6,000-unit increase over its last forecast for the year and a 19% increase over 2009 production. It also increased its 2011 forecast by 3,000 units. That should bring North American Class 8 production numbers up to about 235,300 units, or 67% above 2010 levels.

With Class 5-7 medium-duty trucks “largely tied to the health of housing and construction,” ACT still sees production forecasts for this year and next unchanged. It expects production to grow 19% this year over 2009 and 32% year-over-year in 2011. North American medium-duty truck production totaled 97,750 units in 2009.

“The deck remains tilted against a strong ramp up of Class 8 production in 2010 as the projected growth is still well below replacement level demand,” said John Burton, ACT’s VP-transportation sector. “However, fleet age has truckers increasingly making comments about upgrading the fleet, and anecdotal evidence suggests reserve capacity is in poor shape, having been idled and cannibalized during the downturn.”

The FSR Equipment Buying Index from CK Commercial Vehicle Research measures planned buying behavior of for-hire, private and government fleets responding to a company survey. The index for the second quarter of 2010 improved 18% from Q1, according to the company, with 33.3% of Q2 study participants planning to place orders for power units in the next three months and 29.8% planning trailer orders in the same time frame.

Fleets responding to the Q2 questionnaire operate in excess of 60,000 medium- and heavy-duty power units and 120,000 trailers, according to CKCVR.

"The responses we received in April to all our questions were generally more positive than in January," said Chris Kemmer of CKCVR. "In addition to better equipment purchasing plans, we saw a reduction in the number of parked vehicles reported, improved stated utilization rates and a closer alignment of available freight to haul and fleet capacity. Even the responses to a general ‘how's business’ question averaged higher than in January. However, there is still much caution being shown especially as it relates to the purchase of new power equipment with 2010 emissions engines."

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