COLUMBUS, Ind. — According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: North American Classes 5-8 Report, net Class 8 orders booked during the past six months were surpassed only by the six-month period ending October 2018 — not quite as good as it gets yet, but awfully close.
“Unlike that October 2018 period, where the seeds of the cycle’s fall had already been planted with tariffs and trade wars, the economy is carrying considerable pent-up industrial and consumer demand with stimulus program(s) adding fuel to the fire,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at ACT.
“ACT’s current expectation for GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2021 is 6.4%. Owing to the composition of economic activity, ACT’s GDP-based freight proxy anticipates freight volumes jumping by 12.6%,” he continued. “That supplants 1984 as the best year on record, based on ACT’s freight composite methodology. While freight growth is expected to moderate, as consumer spending patterns begin to revert to more traditional levels of goods spending relative to services, both GDP and freight activity are expected to remain elevated.”
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. Market indicators are differentiated by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, and details 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.
“With the economy growing in all the right places, freight rates and carrier profits are pushing into record territory,” Vieth said. “In response, Class 8 orders the past two quarters have driven rapid backlog growth. Stating the obvious, perhaps, the supply chain’s ability to respond will be the key determinant of commercial vehicle production in 2021.”
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