In separate events at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY, the general managers for both Kenworth Truck Co and sister firm Peterbilt Motors Co said truck sales are poised not only to improve but perhaps also to reach record highs this year.
“It's going to be a great year for the trucking industry,” said Bob Christensen, Kenworth general manager. “Total retail Class 8 sales for 2004 are expected to reach between 210,000 and 220,000 units in the United States and Canada, compared with 164,000 units in 2003. Class 6 — 7 sales are expected to remain stable at 85,000 units.”
Dan Sobic, Peterbilt's GM, noted that total Class 8 sales through the first two months of this year are 40% higher than the same period in 2003.
Christensen explained that improving economic growth and rising freight tonnage are the main drivers behind improved truck sales figures, but that other factors are giving an extra boost to sales projections.
“Two years ago, 50% of all the commercial Class 8 trucks out on the road were three years old or less. Now that figure is below 35%,” he said. “Along with an aging truck fleet is increased legislative attention to lower emissions and truck safety, helping fuel new truck demand.”
Sobic said Peterbilt is increasing its production rate to meet increased orders. “By May, our build rate will be 35% higher than it was at the end of 2003,” he said.