Full COVID-19 impact not reflected in ‘transitional’ March commercial-vehicle report, says ACT

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Semi trucks on lot
Semi trucks on lot

COLUMBUS, Ind. — According to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, truck transportation showed relatively strong performance on restocking activity into the end of March, making the month’s data largely transitional rather than representative of activity expected in coming months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The most obvious signs that the pandemic is starting to impact data can be found in March’s Class 8 orders and cancellations,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst. “Deteriorating new-order activity and meaningfully higher cancellations dropped Class 8 net orders to their lowest level in over 10 years.”

ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales, and general state of the on-road heavy- and medium-duty commercial-vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and retail sales. Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs, and step van configurations, while Class 8 is segmented by trucks and tractors with and without sleeper cabs. This report includes a six-month industry build plan, backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to the present in spreadsheet format, and a ready-to-use graph package. A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

“In addition to the fall of Class 8 net orders, cancellations rose to an 18-month high, and with the freight surge subsiding, freight rates fell sharply into early April. Added to the clifflike decline in economic activity over the past six weeks, there is nothing to suggest any near-term improvement in order conditions,” Vieth said in regard to the heavy-duty market.

Regarding the medium-duty markets, he commented, “Similar to Class 8, medium-duty orders and somewhat elevated cancellations are the only places to find clues in March of the COVID-19 impact. Net orders were down at about half the Class 8 rate, and like Class 8, the pandemic hits a medium-duty market sporting very large new-vehicle inventories.”

For more information about ACT’s State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report click here.

To better track market trends during this crisis, ACT Research has created a COVID-19 market-watch page that tracks noteworthy high-frequency macroeconomic and transportation-specific market indicators.

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