EPA rules boosting used-truck market

After a two-year slump, demand for used trucks is picking up, say truck OEMs and dealers. Fleets have opted to make used truck purchases because of new EPA emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel engines. While fleets are taking a wait-and-see approach to the new EGR-cooled engines, they are buying used trucks that have been parked on lots across the country. The engines in those trucks do not have to meet the new emissions standards. Steve Keate, International Truck and Engine Corp.'s truck group president, said the used truck market has been a bright spot for the OEM over the last six months. "We've seen strong used truck demand. Our inventories levels are at the lowest levels that they've been in a number of years," Keate said. And thanks to that higher level of demand, Keate said International has seen an increase in used truck prices. Rush Enterprises Inc., which operates the largest network of Peterbilt heavy-duty truck dealerships in North America, said that it sold 537 used trucks during its third quarter, compared to 479 in the same period last year. John Bender, corporate used truck manager at Kenworth of Tennessee in Nashville, said demand for used trucks has been high. "Since late summer, it's been extremely hard to find enough inventory for our four full-service stores. There isn't a lot of product out there." According to Ron Lipman, corporate used truck director at the Truck Enterprises Kenworth dealership in Harrisonburg, VA, the market turned abruptly early this year from a glut of used trucks to a market of rising demand and diminishing supply. "Anything with low miles has sold well," said Lipman, who also serves as chairman of Kenworth's Used Truck Advisory Council. "If you find low miles on a W900, you have a gold mine. It's just hard to find them. It's the same thing with the T600, and you can't find any of them either." Used truck dealers say that lower new vehicle production in the past two years has reduced the number of available trucks. They added that many trucking companies have held back buying new trucks and are opting to increase their trade cycles even though this often results in higher maintenance costs.

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