ACT: Commercial Vehicle Demand Remains Strongly Positioned Heading into 2021



According to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, with the beginning of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the likelihood of Congressional assistance for those still suffering from COVID’s impact, and healthy freight rates, commercial vehicle demand remains strongly positioned heading into 2021.

ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and retail sales.

“With vaccine distribution starting this week and the likelihood that Congress will finally provide assistance to those left in COVID’s wake, we are more optimistic that we are nearing the end of the pandemic tunnel and are on the cusp of a better 2021,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst for ACT Research, said. “Of course, with Americans now dying at a 100,000 per-month clip, these positive developments are tinged with the recognition that considerable misery remains.

“With freight rates in record territory since September boosting profits and a freight-heavy 2021 economic outlook, the rule of thumb oft-heard at ACT, ‘truckers buy trucks when they make money,’ again passes the test. It seems that everyone is ordering in the Class 8 segment, but the tractor market is rising at a considerably more rapid clip against easier year-ago comparisons than the truck market. Despite the uptick in orders and build, we do caution that the growing steel shortage and potential for COVID to still wreak havoc on the supply chain could impact build rates into early 2021.”

Regarding the medium-duty segment, Vieth said, “Order performance was mixed across the three market components that ACT tracks, with truck orders benefiting from e-commerce demand, RVs enjoying a pandemic-related boost, but social distancing continuing to weigh on school bus orders.”

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