Commercial Vehicle Demand for 2021 Not on the “Worry” List


COLUMBUS, IN – According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, there are any number of concerns regarding the economy in coming months, but one thing that definitely can be crossed off the worry list is commercial vehicle demand 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. 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 ready-to-use graph package. A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

“Freight markets and by extension, commercial vehicle demand have landed in the upper half of the ‘K-shaped’ economic recovery, thanks to social-distanced changes in spending,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “Consumer and business expenditures have shifted away from experience-based spending on services towards trucking-reliant spending on goods.” He concluded, “Coupling surging freight volumes with the large driver capacity take-out in April, freight rates have been at record levels for weeks.”

By commercial vehicle segment, Vieth commented, “The rebound in carriers’ fortunes is reflected in September’s Class 8 statistics, with orders and backlogs jumping, build rates rising, and an uptick in retail sales volumes that pushed inventories lower. Except for lower inventories, September’s medium-duty statistical roundup is a fair approximation of heavy-duty activity, with orders and backlog jumping, build rates on the rise, and strong sales.”

Additionally, ACT Research recently announced plans for a new multi-client study focusing on electrification of the commercial vehicle industry to be released in 2021. The scope of the study will include unit sales for the US and Canada, annually from 2020 to 2030, with single-year outlooks for 2035 and 2040. Class 8 truck and Classes 4-7 truck and bus segments will be considered, with additional segmentation encompassing step vans, conventional and low cab forward trucks, RV, school bus, yard spotter, transit bus categories, as well as the Class 8 straight, day cab, and sleeper subcategories. Our research will compare purchase and operational costs for diesel, battery, fuel cell, and hybrid powertrains in a rigorous comparative total cost of ownership (TCO) framework. It will also take into account concerns, such as infrastructure requirements and costs, regulation, and issues including maintenance, range, durability and vehicle and component replacement. For more details about how to participate in this study, including a full prospectus, contact Ian McGriff at or click here to let us know of your interest.

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