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FTR reduces Class 8 forecast, cites multiple factors

Of major concern, FTR noted the oversupply of new inventory in the market. This will only continue to worsen if OEM’s continue to build at current levels.

The Trucker News Services

6/22/2012

NASHVILLE, Ind. — The new Class 8 production forecast by FTR Associates shows growth of only 3.4 percent this year with a decline of nearly 11 percent in 2013, that’s according to the June issue of The Truck and Trailer Outlook Report. FTR outlines for their subscribers the significantly reduced forecast beginning in the second half of 2012.

Internal analysis that FTR has done over the last few months has been pointing to a possible slowdown and recent market data has highlighted that concern.

The primary concern is the sluggish U.S. economy, but other factors weighed on FTR’s decision to quantify the expected drop off in stark terms.

Bill Witte, principle of Witte Econometrics and advisor for FTR, points out that the U.S. economy did not fair very well during much of 2011 is not expected to perform nearly as well as once predicted through the balance of 2012 and into next year.

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Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that as freight growth has cooled, fleets have pulled back on Class 8 orders to a level much lower than current OEM build rates.

“OEM’s continue to manufacture trucks at a rate unsustainable, in our view, based on the U.S. economic environment and the current Class 8 order activity” said Eric Starks, president of FTR. “In light of this, as well as our less than positive view of the economy, we have significantly reduced our forecasts. Production levels for 2013 may be reduced further if there is no adjustment made to near-term build rates.

“The economy is just not performing well enough to generate greater demand for new vehicles and unless there is a marked change, we expect softer demand for Class 8 vehicles at least through next year.”

Of major concern, FTR noted the oversupply of new inventory in the market. This will only continue to worsen if OEM’s continue to build at current levels. Retail sales activity is expected to be flat next year from 2012 levels. This suggests that the underlying demand in the equipment market will be healthy, but not growing. However, the need to “right size” inventory will see production levels fall until the inventory situation gets under control.

The full North American Commercial Truck and Trailer Outlook Report for June is now available to subscribers. In addition to FTR’s regular freight, equipment, trucking environment and economic forecasts, the current issue contains full commentary on FTR’s understanding of market indicators affecting the company’s equipment forecasts.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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