ACT: North American Commercial Vehicle Demand Strongly Positioned to Start 2021

According to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, challenges facing commercial vehicle OEMs and suppliers in January 2021 are vastly different from those that were being addressed one year ago.

“To repurpose a phrase, commercial vehicle demand started 2020 like a lamb and left the year like a lion. At the start of 2021, the challenges for medium and heavy-duty OEMs and suppliers are flipped 180 [degrees] from a year ago,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst of ACT Research, said. “Where the challenge a year ago was in winding down build rates to align production with tepid demand, the industry’s challenge today is to ramp up as rapidly as possible to meet soaring demand. The near-term ramp is not without challenges, however, and those include the global steel and silicon chip shortages, as well as ramping up during a pandemic.”

By commercial vehicle segment, Vieth said, “It seems that everyone is ordering in the Class 8 segment, but the tractor market is rising at a considerably more rapid clip, if against easier year-ago comparisons, than the vocational truck side of market.”

Regarding the medium duty segment, Vieth said, “Order performance continues mixed across the three market components that ACT tracks, with truck orders benefitting from e-commerce demand and RVs enjoying a pandemic-related boost, although one wonders about the staying power of this phenomenon with vaccines arriving while social distancing continues to weigh on school bus orders.”

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