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Utility Work Truck

Sales of upfitted work trucks rose 11% in 2021, despite inventory challenges

Feb. 2, 2022
CEO of Work Truck Solutions, which researched and released the data, also predicts sales will stay elevated this year—but so will prices.

Inventories of upfitted work trucks were constrained last year, but that didn’t stop sales from increasing; they were up 11% in 2021, according to commercial vehicle authority Work Truck Solutions.

Work Truck Solutions (WTS), which published the data for the year just concluded, also saw some shifts in market focus for upfitted work trucks, as demand for certain types clearly increased, measured in overall proportion of certain customer inquiries on them, according to a WTS release.

See also: Ford to nearly double F-150 Lightning production

Chico, California-based WTS is the only company that collects national data on the movement of commercial vehicles that are customized after the chassis or van is manufactured by an OEM. 

The top 10 commercial vehicle types by market demand for 2021 included the typical service body that is used by the largest number of vocations, but also included significant increases in buyer demand seen in dry freight (up 275%) and refrigerated (up more than 200%), according to the WTS release.

Continued demand for vans in 2021 was challenged by significantly reduced inventory, resulting in an increase in demand for pickups, flatbeds, and passenger wagons that filled in as final-mile needs continued to scale. 

Kathryn Schifferle, CEO of Work Truck Solutions, predicted that the demand for vans will remain escalated for 2022, as well as the increase in refrigerated vans and box trucks. She said she also expects to see “a plethora of vehicles for unique cases such as ‘secure transport,’ used for cannabis delivery, continue to grow in 2022, following a 283% increase in 2021.”

Schifferle went on to say that WTS has been observing a new rush to provide mobile maintenance services, which all need specialized vehicles, for both fleet and home maintenance plus service needs. As a result, this is expected to be one of the fastest-growing segments of commercial vehicles in 2022.

“Delivery vehicles showed the largest increase in online leads; these are delivery vehicles ranging from first mile, to middle mile, to final mile—with this category being up a staggering 1,100%,” she said.

As Work Truck Solutions predicted at the close of 2020, dealers’ list prices for new work trucks in 2021 did increase more than 13%, and new work van prices were up over 18%, illustrating the results of increasing demand coupled with lower supply. And even more dramatically, used vans averaged a sales price of $40,000 compared to $33,000 in the prior year, and used work truck prices on average were up more than 40%.

WTS and Schifferle also expect that both new and used commercial vehicle prices will maintain their significantly higher averages through 2022. Unlike retail vehicle pricing, which is expected to soften because consumers can decide to delay their purchases, commercial vehicle values will continue to hold at high levels because businesses just cannot wait, according to the WTS release.

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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