ACT Research: Commercial Vehicle Markets ‘Surprisingly Strong’



ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook showed while other areas of the economy continue to suffer, North American commercial vehicle market metrics returned positive indicators.

The outlook is a report that forecasts the future of the industry, looking at the next one to five years, with the objective of giving OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and investment firms the information needed to plan accordingly for the future. The report provides an overview of the North American market and takes a deep dive into relevant, current market activity to highlight orders, production, and backlogs, shedding light on the forecast. Information included in the report covers forecasts and current market conditions for medium and heavy-duty trucks/tractors and trailers; the macroeconomics of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; publicly-traded carrier information; oil and fuel price impacts; freight and intermodal considerations; and regulatory environment impacts.

“While COVID has triggered the most severe recession since the Great Depression, economic activity has been on a solid recovery path since the April swoon,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research, said. “Despite that upward movement, some economic sectors remain mired in deep recession. The story for the transportation sector broadly and for heavy duty trucks specifically can be summed in two words: surprisingly strong.

“From the initial federal response to the pandemic to changes in consumer behavior stemming from the virus, there have been a number of factors that have contributed to significantly better freight outcomes,” Vieth said. “Two numbers illustrate the shift from consumer spending on experiences to spending on the goods that represent freight demand. Consumer spending on durable goods in July was 10.5% higher than it was in January. Over the same period, spending on services fell 9.7%. On the supply side of the equation, considerable sidelined driver capacity has constrained the trucking industry’s ability to haul freight.

“The current imbalance between freight demand and driver supply pushed dry van spot freight rates to all-time highs in August, a key barometer for new equipment demand. Offsetting the good news is considerable parked heavy truck capacity that will return to the market, leading us to make the case for a steady, rather than robust, Class 8 market rebound into the first half of 2021.”

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