Kenny Vieth

Warning: Rockier roads lie ahead

Dec. 23, 2019
ACT Research predicting medium-, heavy-duty markets to experience declines in 2020 after peaking in 2019

The medium- and heavy-duty markets will face tougher conditions in 2020, according to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report.

“After peak build and sales in 2019, significant declines are ahead in 2020, as sales and build will follow trends in net orders and backlog volumes lower in their respective markets,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s president and senior analyst. “Recent articles point to a growing belief that a recession is likely to be averted in 2020, so the economic ‘days’ are likely to become brighter as we move through 2020.

“Unfortunately for the industry, the expected rebound will not come soon enough, or be robust enough, to take a sharp equipment downturn off the table.”

The Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at current production, sales and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and retail sales. Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs, and step van configurations, while Class 8 is segmented by trucks and tractors with and without sleeper cabs.

This report includes a six-month industry build plan, backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to present in spreadsheet format, and ready-to-use graph package. A first look at preliminary net orders also is published in conjunction with the report.

“After October’s modest order strength, November data quelled thoughts of a better-than-expected order season, with November’s booking down about 4,400 units from the previous month,” Vieth said about the Class 8 market.

Regarding medium-duty markets, Vieth added: “Weakness has spread in medium-duty demand. The drivers of lower build rates are weak orders, falling backlogs and elevated inventories. That weakness in turn is driven by the above-trend buying of the past 18 months, leading to slowing demand for trucks and RVs.”

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