July offered some respite for big truck producers, as U.S. sales of medium- and heavy-duty models combined fell just 4.6%, the first month of single-digit decline since April.
The month's performance was led by strong Class 8 sales, which rose 21% from year-ago on a daily rate basis (25 days this year vs. 24 in 2001) to 14,095 units. Sterling was the only brand — down 3.0% — to suffer a falloff, though parent Freightliner Corp. saw sales rise 5.5% overall. Biggest gainers were Navistar International Transportation Corp., up 40.5%, and Paccar Inc. The surge in sales likely is related to customers wanting to beat new emissions regulations that kick in Oct. 1.
Medium-duty sales fell 21.8% for the month on a volume of 13,479 units. All four weight classes posted declines, with Class 4 the largest drop, at 33.4% and volume-leader Class 7 down 28.4%.
To date, Class 8 sales trail year-ago's pace by 5.2%, while medium-duty sales are off 20%.