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Used Class 8 sales retreat, 8% lower in February

March 30, 2023
Latest equipment report from ACT Research joins other recent indicators of a trucking industry slowdown and particular trouble for small fleets and owner-operators.

Used Class 8 volumes, or same dealer retail sales, fell 8% in February compared to January, according to the latest iteration of a regular ACT Research report on the sales outlook and trends among Classes 3-8 vehicles in volume, price, mileage, and age.

Average mileage was unchanged from January, but average price and age also were both down for February, 4% and 2%, respectively, in the new version ACT’s State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks report, according to a March 29 release from the trucking industry data-analysis firm. The February lull in sales, however, follows two months of gains in used-truck sales, according to ACT.

See also: ‘Soft’ spot rates another signal of freight-economy trouble?

ACT VP of Research Steve Tam called the drop in February “directionally consistent with seasonality, though a bit steeper than expected.” He added: “It is no secret that ‘normal’ has been anything but in this cycle, so given the relatively small variance, it is tough to get too excited.”

In the March 29 ACT release, Tam did go on to join the analysts who lately have seen freight capacity and volume slowdowns, a slumping spot market, and generally signs of troubling business conditions for smaller fleets and independent owner-operators. The used equipment sector isn’t immune, he said.

“Concerns remain regarding how owner-operators and small fleets will fare in 2023, particularly as freight rates fall and operating costs rise,” Tam added in the release. “While the economy may avoid a recession, inflation remains a very real concern. And all of this says nothing about what fleets’ equity position in their equipment looks like. Those that bought at the top of the market are likely underwater or headed there. With that in mind, we expect the market to fall as much as 10%.”

In addition to sales volume, mileage, and age, the ACT report provides the average selling price for Class 8s from each of the major OEMs—Freightliner (Daimler); Kenworth and Peterbilt (Paccar); International (Navistar); and the two Volvo nameplates, Volvo and Mack.

Looking ahead to March, Tam said “history suggests sales typically increase 15% to 20% from February. While inventory has ticked up and new-truck activity could support that much of an increase in used-truck sales, the economy and freight are still on the soft side. The challenge is figuring out how much pent-up demand exists in the used truck market.”

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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