ACT: Strength in Commercial Vehicle Industry Varies by Sector

According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, conditions in the Class 8 market are solid, while data from the medium duty sector diverged in February, with strength in backward-looking indicators, like build and sales, and some softness in forward-looking metrics, like orders.

The used Class 8 market remained challenged longer-term as robust sales translate into strong trade-in activity, and February net trailer orders are reported down sequentially, as well as versus last year at the same time.

The report, which combines ACT’s proprietary data analysis across a wide variety of industry sources to paint a comprehensive picture of trends in transportation and commercial vehicle markets, also suggests that US economic growth in 2019 remains positive, although slowing, and in a less certain environment.

“Our near-term outlook for heavy duty trucks changed very little again this month. As we transition into spring, the contours of the rest of 2019 and beyond are becoming clearer and pretty much conform to our expectations,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. “What marks current business conditions as ‘strange’ is the volatility and the rapid change of many of the freight-related indicators and signals that we track.”

Regarding the medium duty market, Vieth said, “Weaker medium duty orders are the largest detractor from a higher 2019 forecast, with softening in key end markets, such as light vehicles and housing acting, as a governor on demand. And, with higher interest rates and rising prices, growth is expected to remain restrained.”

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