NAFTA truck sales still falling, but Europe going strong

HANNOVER. GERMANY. With North American Class 6-8 truck sales already off 10% compared to 2015, they could fall by as much as 15% for the entire year, according to Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks. “We see a real slowdown for the end of the year in the U.S.,” he said at a press conference during the IAA 2016 commercial vehicle show.

Factors behind the slowdown are “hard to tell,” Bernhard said. “Freight rates and utilization are OK, and customers are interested [in buying new trucks], but there’s just a little hesitation that might be solved after the election and any uncertainty about the economy ends.”

Most of that decline is in Class 8 with medium-duty truck sales fairly level from 2015, according to Kary Schaefer, Daimler Trucks North American GM of marketing and strategy.

As for 2017 sales, Bernhard said, “It’s hard to see what will happen next year – I’m having trouble seeing what will happen in the end of this year.”

Truck sales in Europe are moving the the exact opposite direction. Calling the first half of 2016 “robust, especially in Germany,” Bernhard believes Class 6 to 8 numbers could end the year as much as 17% above 2015.

Echoing that view of the European truck market was Preston Feight, who was recently appointed president of Paccar’s European DAF Trucks after serving as general manager of Kenworth Trucks. Class 8 sales in Europe should end the year at 280,000 to 300,000 units, making it the best truck sales year since 2008, he told Fleet Owner. Feight credits “solid economic fundamentals” and substantial efficiency gains from new truck technology as the driving forces in the strong European sales.


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