The high-expectations for orders in the Class 8 market have leveled out to a more modest strength, November booking less than October by 4400 units. Medium duty markets as well showing weakness in demand, caused by lower orders, falling backlogs and overstocked inventories. Trailer supply has nearly caught up with trailer demand, sending ordering levels into a flat state. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty with many variables such as trade, economy, tariffs and of course politics, so fleets are watching the market closely. A positive take-away from the disappointing November stats is a significant easing in cancellations vs. previous months. Overall, the truck sales for Classes 5-7, heading into the end of the year were up from previous month, while Class 8 sales were up in September from August, and then down in October and November.
- Medium duty vehicles Classes 6 and 7 sales in October were just below 14,500 units. Class 8 sales were 23,001 units in October.
- Sales for October 2019: Class 7 were 6,667, Class 6 with 7,803 and Class 3, 4 and 5 were a combined total of 37,090 units.
- Kenworth Truck Co, Peterbilt Motors Co, Hino Motors USA and Isuzu Commercial Truck of America posted gains while other truck makers in the segment posted declines compared to a year earlier.
- In October 2019 heavy-duty Class 8 sales in the US were 22,001 units. Freightliner was at the top with 7,673 units, International next with 4,609 units, Peterbilt next with 3,444 units, Kenworth with 3,332 units, Volvo with 2,248 units, Mack with 1,224 and Western Star with 471 trucks.
- Used truck prices fell 15% in November, returning used truck sales to a downward track 16% year-to-date.
- Equipment sellers also will feel the tough conditions in 2020.
- New trailer orders, after counting out the cancellations, dropped 38% to 19,800 in November from previous month, and down 52% down compared to same time in 2018.
Looking back throughout the decade, Innovation and technological advancements have made a definite presence. Some seemingly just the first steps in what will be an awesome future. And some challenging, as regulations change and market demands keep evolving. Here are just some of topics that have stood out:
- Alternative fuels and fuel efficiency – Not only as necessary options when fuel pricing started to rise but once prices came down again, fuel efficiency also headed on a path to include efficiency of diesel engines.
- Automated and automatic transmissions – Resulting in higher productivity, better fuel efficiency, increased safety, decrease in driver fatigue altogether and more appeal to potential drivers.
- Advanced safety systems – Since vehicle safety is such a priority, inclusion of collision mitigation in vehicles has significantly increased as a product offering. The data shows the reduction of serious and frequent accidents result from the use of collision mitigation systems and further improving from this technology.
- Appropriate drug testing for drivers now a bigger challenge with the passing of Cannabis for recreational use.
- The on-going battle of employing drivers as independent contractors.
- Autonomous vehicle developers testing self-driving Class 8 trucks.
Researchers warn because of the strong 2019 truck market, that 2020 will be tough for medium and heavy-duty truck sales. Uneasy political moves, looming tariff and trade decisions are just some of what is keeping the industry on the edge of their seats. And with neither China nor the US backing down, the waiting game continues and so must business nevertheless. But despite the rollercoaster feeling of month to month changes in trucking and trailer markets, many believe that 2021 will be a bounce-back year with growth into 2023. We are seeing a slowing GDP growth but still, no recession.