Sales of new Class 8 trucks in April were 39.8% higher than they were in March, according to data compiled by Ward's Communications. The 12,315 Class 8s sold in April were also 3.6% more than were sold in April 2002.
Trucking analyst Martin Labbe of Ormond Beach, FL-based Martin Labbe Associates said it appears Class 8 sales will show steady improvement and, with the exception of last year's pre-buy bubble, trend up through the year.
Labbe said last year's sales lag had to do with uncertainty of EPA 02'-complient engines that hit the market in October, the lack of deals on trucks, and inconsistent messages about the economy. With the varying messages, many fleets decided to hold off on new equipment purchases, Labbe said.
"Fleets themselves made the decision to extend their trade cycles, but they can't extend their equipment anymore," Labbe told Fleet Owner. "But now they're seeing that the new engines are working, so they're making their move."
Labbe added that low financing and dealer incentives are also encouraging fleets to replenish equipment.