International projects truck sales growth

International Truck & Engine Corp. is projecting slow but robust growth for total industry Class 6-8 truck sales in 2003, saying they will increase about 13% over this year's numbers. "We've seen a growth in truck tonnage over the last several months, along with 1.5% growth in factory orders and 2.4% growth in durable goods orders last month," said Steve Keate, president of International's truck group. "Productivity growth in the third quarter this year was over 5%, so there's been a lot of good news lately as we head into 2003." Keate said Class 8 sales in the U.S. and Canada will reach between 180,000 and 190,000 units by the end of 2003, up from an estimated 156,000 this year. Class 6-7 sales will increase 13% to 82,000 units in the U.S. and Canada by the end of next year, he said. Class 8 sales in the first quarter will be flat, Keate stressed, due mostly to continued uncertainty from fleets over the reliability of new low-emission diesels. However, he believes that uncertainty will dissipate starting in the second quarter as fleets realize those engines perform "quite well" compared to their predecessors.

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