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Sales of used Class 8s surge in August

Sept. 28, 2022
According to ACT Research, used Class 8 sales rose 29% while average prices declined 6%, continuing the market’s pullback from unprecedented price levels earlier this year and last year. Another ACT report sees improving new trailer output.

Used Class 8 same dealer sales spiked 29% in August from the month before, but prices for them continued to trend down as the used-truck market descends from the unprecedented sky-high price levels of earlier this year, according to trucking industry data aggregator ACT research.

“Same dealer retail sales of used Class 8 trucks popped in August, jumping 29% [month-over-month],” said Steve Tam, VP at ACT Research. “Used-truck sales usually see a nice bump between July and August, but the level of sales exceeded expectations. Harkening back to comments in a previous report, new-truck production is the most likely catalyst for the outsized increase.”

See also: Topsy-turvy times for used trucks

Tam added: “Looking ahead, the OEMs were unable to maintain June’s level of output in July, so used-truck sales in September are likely to return to trend. However, August new truck production was also elevated, so October used-truck sales should see some meaningful gains.”

Used-truck prices are headed in the opposite direction, though they are still high compared to a typical market. According to the latest release of ACT’s State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks, the average price for a used Class 8 was down 6% in August compared to July, when the average price also was down 1% from June. In August, the average price was still higher year-over-year and year-to-date, with prices up 64% year-to-date, according to an ACT release.

Average miles were 4% higher in August compared to the first eight months of 2021, and the average age was 3% older for the same time period. The ACT Classes 3-8 report provides data on the average selling price, miles, and age based on a sample of industry data. The report also provides the average selling price for top-selling Class 8 models for each of the major truck OEMs, Freightliner (Daimler), Kenworth and Peterbilt (Paccar), International (Navistar), and Volvo and Mack (Volvo).

See also: July Class 8 orders down sharply, two firms report

In another ACT offering, its Transportation Digest, the top line on the Class 8 Tractor Dashboard improved in July to a neutral -2 reading, closing out four consecutive months of moderately downbeat readings, according to another ACT release. The dashboard is an overall barometer for trucking executives that includes the used-truck market but also measures for-hire indices, freight, heavy- and medium-duty segments, the U.S. trailer market, and an overview of the U.S. economy.

“Our interpretation is a gradual erosion for Class 8 market demand as we look to 2023, but no ‘spiral down’ and certainly not a ‘cliff event’,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst.

“We think the dashboard reading suggests a better outcome for Class 8 than was the case in our last two recessions,” the COVID-19 slowdown of 2020 and the 2008-2009 Great RecessionVieth noted. 

Trailer demand weathers supply disruptions

Meanwhile, new U.S. trailer manufacturing is arguably doing better than new tractor production in enduring persistent supply disruptions. Last month, U.S. trailer orders of 17,777 units were 4.6% higher compared to July—and they were up more than 37.7% over August 2021, according to another of ACT’s reports, State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers.

This report provides a monthly review of the current U.S. trailer market as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and factory shipments.

Of trailer manufacturing, Jennifer McNealy, director of commercial vehicle market research and publications at ACT, said: “Discussions across the past month indicate more OEMs opening 2023 build slots (some opening initial slots, others expanding into later in the year). OEMs continue to negotiate with fleets, and those efforts are quickly moving to booked business.”

“While manufacturers continue to wrestle with rolling supply-chain disruptions, as well as challenges on the labor front, tangible improvements are being made,” McNealy added.

“OEMs are investigating longer-term supply solutions, including but not limited to increased parts inventories and automation to offset labor pains, in hopes of getting ahead of potential future disruptions. Demand remains strong, cancellations remain insignificant as fleets in queue plan to stay in line, and we’re beginning to hear about price stabilization accompanying the smoother flow of materials in the supply chain.”

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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