FTR's Jonathan Starks talks medium-duty at the firm's annual conference.

Medium-duty faces slow growth environment

Sept. 17, 2015
The sales trend in this truck segment is for “distinct slow growth” says FTR’s Jonathan Starks

INDIANAPOLIS. Medium-duty truck sales are going to follow a very slow growth path for the next several years, if the projections made by Jonathan Starks, FTR’s director of analysis, hold true.

Total medium-duty sales for North America are expected to reach 194,500 units this year, climb to 199,500 units in 2016, inch up to 201,300 units in 2017 then creep to 203,400 units by 2018, he said

Much of that growth is going to occur in the Class 4-5 segment, Starks emphasized, with sales growing from 52,900 units this year to 58,200 in 2016, some 63,700 units by 2017 and 66,900 units by 2018.

By contrast, Class 6-7 sales will contract to a degree, he indicated, falling from 141,500 units this year to 141,300 units in 2016 then on down to 137,600 in 2017 before inching back up to 138,500 units in 2018.

Starks stressed that the medium-duty segment “is not one market, but actually several,” and as a result monthly sales volatility is common. “That’s why analyzing a single month of sales won’t tell you much,” he explained.

The return of General Motors into the medium-duty market as a whole along with Ford Motor Co.’s revamped Class 6-7 trucks “changes the dynamics” of this segment, Starks added, though how much their presence will shift things remains to be seen.

Adrian Ratza (at right), marketing manager for Hino Trucks, also offered a deeper look into the breakdown of Class 4-7 demand, noting that “each class acts very differently; they each play in their own sandbox.”

Class 4 trucks, for example, are predominantly gasoline powered, which flips to 80% diesel power in Class 5, growing to well over 90% diesel in Class 6 and 7.

He noted that “long conventional” Class 5 trucks are seeing a strong uptick in demand largely driven by the “re-urbanization” of the U.S.

“There are a higher percentage of people from the younger generations, especially Millennials, moving back into the cities,” he said. “That’s one reason why our new 195 Class 5 model, introduced a few years ago, is here to stay.”

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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