Heavy duty trucks easily registered the best sales of 2009 in December, jumping 30.2 percent from the month before — and November had set the previous standard for the year. December also marked the fourth consecutive month-to-month improvement as truck buyers eyed savings ahead of the more costly, 2010 emissions-compliant equipment.
According to figures provided to The Trucker by Ward’s Automotive, December Class 8 sales totaled 11,537 trucks in the United States, up from 8,861 trucks in November.
And while the December number is 9.5 percent lower than December a year ago (12,747 trucks), that’s by far the best year-over-year comparison for any month in 2009.
Still, the numbers have fallen dramatically since the industry peak. Truck sales in December during the industry run-up in 2005 and 2006 averaged a whopping 24,864 units.
For all of 2009, 94,798 Class 8 trucks were sold in the U.S. (down 29 percent from last year), the worst showing on the Ward’s books dating to 1985.
In 1991, the previous low, 98,714 trucks were sold for the year. By comparison, in the 2006 record year, 284,008 trucks were sold — meaning a decline this year of 66.6 percent from the peak three years ago.
In a brand-by-brand look at the most recent figures, Daimler Trucks North America’s Freightliner nameplate led the field, selling 3,665 trucks in December, a 31.4 percent gain from November and a 12.4 percent improvement from the year before.
Navistar sold 2,608 International brand trucks, gaining 3.2 percent from the previous month, but down 8.8 percent from December 2008.
PACCAR nameplates Peterbilt and Kenworth sold 1,474 trucks (up 54.2 percent from November) and 1,655 trucks (up 61.3 percent), respectively. Kenworth’s total was an improvement of 5.5 percent from December 2008.
Volvo Group’s Mack Trucks Inc. was up 43.6 percent from the previous month on 1,107 trucks sold in December, while Volvo Trucks North America was up 21.4 percent for the month, with 833 trucks sold.
Month-to-month numbers, it should be noted, can vary greatly — especially between quarters or from year’s end — depending on an OEM’s sales incentives and reporting procedures.
The U.S. market share pie chart for the year shows International as the top selling Class 8 brand, with a 28 percent slice on 26,581 trucks sold, edging Freightliner (27.3 percent, 25,884 trucks). Peterbilt’s share is 13 percent (12,277 trucks) and Kenworth holds 12.3 percent (11,652 trucks) of the Class 8 market. Mack recorded 7,626 sales in 2009, edging Volvo’s 7,066.
Compared to 2008, International’s Class 8 market share improved 375 basis points, while Freightliner improved its position by 189 basis points. Volvo in 2009 saw its share fall from 9.8 percent to 7.5 percent.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.