ACT offers predictions on COVID-19 impact on global economies, commercial-vehicle demand

Selection of Class 8 tractors
Selection of Class 8 tractors

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Recovery for global economies and North America’s commercial-vehicle demand should begin in 2021, according to ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook. According to the report, 2021 is being forecast as the transition year as economies move from COVID-19’s negative impacts into a meaningfully better situation in 2022.

The North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook forecasts the future of the industry, looking at the next one to five years, with the objective of giving OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and investment firms the information needed to plan accordingly for what is to come. The report provides a complete overview of the North American markets. In addition, the report takes a deep dive into relevant, current market activity to highlight orders, production and backlogs, shedding light on the forecast.

Information included in the report covers forecasts and current market conditions for medium- and heavy-duty trucks/tractors and trailers; the macroeconomies of the U.S., Canada and Mexico; publicly traded carrier information; oil and fuel price impacts; freight and intermodal considerations; and regulatory environment impacts.

“Without clear forward visibility on the COVID-19 endgame, the crystal ball is particularly opaque, as the economy begins to reemerge from its medically induced coma,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst.

“Even as we work through the logic and implications of bigger picture issues, more practical considerations for 2021 forecasts arise,” he said. “History shows that even from the lowest lows, the manufacturers can’t snap their collective fingers and bring production up immediately. Returning to normalized production levels is a process that is hard to rush.”

Vieth continued, “Coupling an otherwise structurally sound pre-COVID economy, with strong governmental support and rising pent-up demand, there is a case for the economy to rebound into 2021. We believe maturing millennials will be the key to pushing the economy forward as they resume their transition to marriages, kids and mortgages.”

Regarding North America’s commercial vehicle demand, Vieth commented, “Underlying fundamentals for the medium-duty market took a direct hit from COVID-19, as it impacted the consumer portion of the economy severely. The heavy Class 8 and trailer markets are seeing falling orders, rising cancellations, and backlogs getting pushed to later build dates. When the economy ultimately rebounds, accessible capacity is likely to be short, leading to strong rebounds in freight rates, carrier profitability and ultimately unsated vehicle replacement demand.”

ACT Research has instituted a COVID-19 Market Watch webpage to track noteworthy high-frequency macroeconomic and transportation-specific market indicators.


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