Class 8 truck sales in the U.S. totaled 25,895 in March, according to www.WardsAuto.com. This number is indicative of a white-hot sales environment as carriers buy to both expand capacity and horde ’06 models before the more-expensive ’07 models are rolled out.
Last month’s tally represents a whopping 26.2% increase over that of March 2005 (20,518) and a 26.9% jump over the revised February 2006 total (20,399).
According to Chris Brady, president of Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting, last month’s figure translates to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 298,700 units—a very strong showing compared with last month’s 282,500. By comparison, the total number of Class 8s sold in 2005 was nearly 253,000—about a quarter more than the 203,197 sold in 2004.
Vehicle stocks were 48,755, which was, according to Brady, “at the high end of a reasonable level. That would be excessive if the sales rate decreased but dealers are stocking up on trucks for the pre-buy to avoid ’07 trucks].”
The ’07 model Class 8s are mandated by EPA to be equipped with emissions reduction technology, which is expected to bring a higher initial cost for the equipment. Because of this, demand for pre-’07 models are expected to remain strong well into next year, encouraging dealers to snatch up as many ’06 models as possible, Brady explained.
Brady expects Class 8 retail sales to remain high, with some months in the second half of 2006 to even exceed an annual rate of 300,000 as pre-buy sales pick up.