Tuesday’s revelation by Daimler Trucks North America that a large layoff was impending at plants in North America is further evidence that the forecast of a more robust recovery in the OEM market might not be as strong as previously predicted.
Many industry stakeholders forecast U.S. sales of upwards of 240,000, only to see a late 2012 slowdown set the final total at 194,715.
And it probably won’t be much better in 2013, says Steve Tam, vice president commercial trucks, at ACT Research, a worldwide publisher of new and used commercial vehicle industry data.
“We are calling it dead flat,” Tam said of U.S. Class 8 sales in 2013, adding the final total should be about 198,000.
“First-quarter sales should reach 41,000 and then increase to 50,000 for the second quarter,” he said.
For the entire North American market, ACT believes sales will reach 260,000 based on six-month rolling build plans provided by OEMs.
“OEMs are telling us that they are going to build 1,040 a day in quarter one and about 1,070 a day in quarter two,” he said.
The 2013 first-quarter build would be about 17 percent below first quarter 2012 when the build rate was 1,250 trucks a day.
In the second quarter, the build rate was 1,240.
“If you annualized that first half of the year, the industry was building at a 300,000-unit annual rate, closer to 320,000. We ended up being 278,000-280,000. So they really overbuilt,” Tam said, noting that the third-quarter build rate was 1,180 and the fourth quarter 1,000.
WANTING TO FIND A NEW JOB? GOTRUCKERS.COM OFFERS HUNDREDS OF POSSIBILITIES. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS.
However, OEMs did a good job on inventory control, he noted.
“We look at something we call an inventory to retail sales ratio and our target on Class 8 trucks is 1.5 to 2.5 months,” Tam said. “At the end of December, they had a 1.7 month inventory.”