Heavy-duty vehicle demand stays healthy

A strong rebound in net margins for publicly traded truckload companies in the second calendar quarter is expected to fuel continued improvement in demand for heavy-duty vehicles and trailers, according to ACT Research Co.

In the latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook, ACT projects full-year production of heavy-duty (Class 8) vehicles will be up 26% compared with 2009 and accelerate into 2011. Production of commercial trailers is expected to increase by 47% in 2010 and also post strong growth 2011. As it is closely tied to the health of the housing sector, the medium-duty vehicle sector continues to recover slowly.

“Trucker profitability rebounded sharply in the second quarter, fueled by tightening capacity and rising freight rates,” said John Burton, vice-president-transportation sector with ACT. “Even with modest economic growth, commercial vehicle demand should continue to rise as carriers appear to be replacing an aging fleet but not adding capacity. Demand for new heavy-duty vehicles continues to be well below normal replacement levels, meaning overall fleet capacity is shrinking due to scrappage and export of used tractors. This will allow truckers to retain pricing leverage and profits.”

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