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Peterbilt's Kozek says trucking industry heading down an improved road

Peterbilt's Bill Kozek says indicators show the trucking industry is headed in the right direction. (The Trucker: CLIFF ABBOTT)

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

3/20/2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — From the driver’s seat of one of the country’s major OEMs, the U.S. economy and the North American truck market are headed down the right road.

“The gross domestic product and industrial production are showing slight growth, unemployment is forecasted to remain below 8 percent for the foreseeable future and two key manufacturing sectors, housing starts and light truck sales, show positive growth, and as we know this bodes well for the trucking industry,” Bill Kozek, Paccar vice president and general manager of Peterbilt Motors Co., told assembled reporters Wednesday afternoon at a news briefing held in conjunction with the Mid-America Trucking Show, which opens Thursday.

Kozek said overall truck market trends were positive, although government regulations, tax policy, Hours of Service, CSA and driver shortages continue to impact carrier operations.

Kozek is predicting the total 2013 Class 8 sales in the U.S. and Canada would reach somewhere between 210,000 and 240,000, which is along the lines of his forecast at the same meeting in 2012.

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The total U.S. and Canadian Class 8 sales in 2012 was 225,000, with U.S. sales alone reaching 194,715, the latter somewhat  below the predictions of many trucking industry stakeholders.

The first two months of 2013 both showed declines in sales in the U.S. market, however.

At 240,000 units, 2013 would represent the fourth largest market in U.S.-Canadian history, Kozek noted.

“Many transportation companies had record revenue, profit and fleet utilization last year,” Kozek told reporters. “The North American freight index is improving and economists are expecting strong growth beginning in the second half of 2013.”

The American Trucking Associations tonnage index did edge higher in January and February, although January’s original 2.4 percent gain was revised downward to 1 percent this week and February’s reported growth was only 0.6 percent. However, over the last four months, tonnage has gained a total of 7.7 percent.

On a note that rings positive for the OEM market, Peterbilt included, Kozek said the average age of the truck fleet in the North American market continues at historic highs.

“Fleets need to replace vehicles and because of the age of the fleet, the parts and service business continues at a strong level,” Kozek said.

Robert Woodall, vice president of sales and marketing at Peterbilt, told reporters that the company had achieved a significant number of accomplishments in 2012, including record Class 8 and medium duty market share of 14 and 7.5 percent respectively.

He said the company manufactured a record number of natural gas vehicles and was the market share leader at 35 percent in the NG market.

Kozek said about 3,500 NG vehicles were sold by all OEMs in 2012, a number that might reach 5,000-6,000 in 2013.

The Mid-America Trucking Show runs Thursday through Saturday at the Kentucky Expo Center with as many as 80,000 expected to attend.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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