ACT Research Reveals K-Shaped Economic Recovery for Commercial Vehicle Orders

According to recent ACT research, the U.S. economy is recovering from the early-year COVID-19 pandemic driven-shutdowns on a K- shaped trajectory. This means a large swath of the economy has experienced something approximating a V-shaped recovery, even as major economic segments remain mired on an L-shaped trajectory.

The research can be found in the latest ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report, which 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. Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs and step van configurations, while Class 8 is segmented by trucks and tractors with and without sleeper cabs. This report includes a six-month industry build plan, backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to the present in spreadsheet format and a graph package. A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

“Fortunately for [the] freight economy, the pattern has been more V-shaped,” Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT Research, said. “Demand for goods, both durable and nondurable, began to surge in May, as consumers stopped spending on experiences. From January to July, consumer spending on services fell 9.7%, while during the same period durable goods spending was up 10.5% and nondurable expenditures rose 4.2%.

“The rebound in carriers’ fortunes has been a positive for the front-end of the demand spectrum. Supported by strong U.S. tractor demand, NA Class 8 net orders remained healthy in August, up nearly 74% from year-ago levels. Medium-duty vehicle sales also are benefiting from the consumption audible toward goods and away from services, with August’s North American Classes 5-7 net orders up 10% from July and down just 2% on a year-over-year basis.”

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