Long-forecast damper on U.S. Class 8 truck sales evident in October numbers

The International nameplate had a 28.4% increase with sales of 4,609 in October compared with 3,590 in September and Volvo had a 15.2% increase with sales of 2,248 in October compared with 1,951 in September. Pictured is the International LT series. (Courtesy: NAVISTAR)

The long-forecast damper on Class 8 trucks sales hit home in October with the number of units sold dropping 18.6% as compared to September, according to Wards Intelligence.

Sales in October totaled 23,001 compared to 28,258 in September.

The 18.6% decline was the largest month-over-month drop since July 2016 (excluding January sales which always result in a rather huge decline from December of the previous year when carriers typically increase the purchase of new tractor for tax purposes).

October’s sales were 8% down year-over-year, the largest year-over-year decline since April 2017, including January’s.

Year-to-date sales are of 234,721, 15.5% higher than at the same time in 2018, but year-to-date percentages have steadily declined from the 28.6% figure in February (again, January figures are usually an anomaly).

Two OEMs posted gains in October and both were significant.

The International nameplate had a 28.4% increase with sales of 4,609 in October compared with 3,590 in September and Volvo had a 15.2% increase with sales of 2,248 in October compared with 1,951 in September.

Month-over-month changes in retail sales are influenced by many variables,” said Steve Gilligan, vice president product marketing, Navistar, which manufactures the International brand. “OEMs, including Navistar, may see significant changes in month-over-month percentages due to the industry size, major fleet transactions which occurred, seasonal dealer retail sales activity, and even fiscal year end timing.:

As an example, Gilligan said year-to-date industry volume through September was up compared to the same period last year and while Navistar’s September share was down,  Navistar year to date share remained up over the same period last year.

“In October, while industry volume was down, Navistar volume and share increased and more importantly YTD share increased,” he said. “We take the overall year-to-date share growth as a positive sign.”

According to Wards data, International’s year to date market share after 10 months in 2018 was 13.6%. After 10 months in 2019, International market share is 14.8%.

Here is our response, attributed to Magnus Koeck, Vice President, Marketing and Brand Management, Volvo Trucks North America:

For Volvo Trucks North America, the registrations month over month are more related to a timing issue when trucks are registered in the market, according to Magnus Koeck, vice president, marketing and brand management, Volvo Trucks North America.

“We came from a low September to more average October,” he said. “There are trucks within our dealer network waiting to be delivered to customers and we believe we will see two strong months in November and December. December is normally the strongest retail month of the year when you see lots of registrations coming in as it’s a close-out for the year.”

As would be expected with such a sharp drop from September to October, all but one nameplate showed a drop in sales as compared with the same month last year.

Only Volvo with October 2019 sales of 2,248 compared with 2,215 in October 2018 showed a year-over-year increase of 1.5%

As for Class 8 orders, the two companies that track and analyze the large truck market both reported North American Class 8 October orders at 22,100 units.

FTR said the order level was the highest since November of 2018, but still far below a year ago.  October 2019 order activity was the weakest performance for an October since 2016.












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Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.
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