Mack’s Vikner cautious on truck sales projections

Paul Vikner, president & CEO of Mack Trucks, wanted to make two things very clear at the Mid-America Trucking Show last week: One is that the trucking industry is coming back “very strong” in terms of demand for new trucks, and the other is that truck makers must be “a lot more cautious and careful” in terms of projecting how strong new truck demand could be.

“We want to be prudent and take a very conservative approach to predicting how well truck sales will do,” he said, noting that Mack projects Class 8 truck sales in North America (Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.) would top out in the low 200,000 range by year’s end— if that.

“We want to plan out any additional production capacity more carefully and have more responsibility behind it, so when the market goes down again we won’t be hurt as much as we were three years ago,” Vikner said.

“We know that the [truck sales] market runs in cycles and the market was really down for three years,” he added. “The U.S. economy and freight [volumes] were down, sure, but the business practices of many truck manufacturers were to blame as well. People wanted to buy trucks over the last few years, but the values of their used trucks were too low to let them do it. We don’t want to be caught in another situation like that.”

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