LOUISVILLE, KY. Both of Paccar Corp.’s truck manufacturing subsidiaries are predicting strong growth in medium- and heavy-duty truck sales this year compared to 2010 and are ramping up factory capacity to meet that demand.
Bill Kozek, general manager for Kenworth Truck Co., told Fleet Owner here at the 2011 Mid-America Trucking Show he thinks total industry Class 8 sales will exceed 200,000 units this year, a big jump from the 125,000 sold in 2010, as “cautious optimism” among fleet customers spurs them to finally replace aging vehicles.
“The age of the [over the road] trucking fleet is the highest it’s ever been, and the maintenance cost to keep them running is really climbing,” he said. “The economy looks good and that’s maintaining their optimism, even though there’s growing concern about the high cost of fuel. It’s just a question of when they decide to pull the trigger and get new trucks.”
Kozek noted that Kenworth recently added a second shift at its Chillicothe, OH, manufacturing site.
Bill Jackson, general manager for Peterbilt Motors Co., noted that high fuel prices actually offer a great opportunity for OEMs to convince customers to invest in new aerodynamic trucks that get significantly better fuel economy than the units they operate now.
“It’s evident that the shifting dynamics we’re seeing in the market, such as rising freight volumes combined with tight capacity, support growth in new truck sales,” he said during a press conference here at Mid-America. “It’s exciting to be back in a growing [mode] after coming through several very challenging years.”
Jackson is projecting total industry Class 8 sales will top 210,000 units this year, with medium-duty sales reaching 50,000 units. To meet demand, Peterbilt has added a second shift to its Denton, TX, production facility and is ramping its build rate up to 100 heavy-duty trucks per day.
To put that in perspective, Jackson noted that Denton produced 102 trucks per day during the big “pre-buy” in Class 8 units back in 2006 – a year in which the total industry sales exceeded 320,000 units. Yet that represented peak capacity at Denton back then, he noted. Today, after $30 million worth of capital investments over the last three years, Peterbilt could produce 150 trucks per day at Denton if need be, Jackson point out.