LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — U.S. sales of new, Class 8 trucks experienced the best month of the year to date in June, according to data received from Wards Intelligence.
Only one month — December 2021 — has seen higher sales numbers since December 2019.
Manufacturers reported sales of 22,358 in June, an increase of 1,643 trucks, or 7.9% over May sales, which were the previous high for this year.
Compared with last year’s June sales of 19,840, the increase was 12.7%
The increased sales are an indication that supply chain issues, such as the difficulty obtaining semiconductors and parts that contain them, may be easing up. Inflationary pressures may be partly responsible, as consumers spend more of their income on food and fuel, leaving less for purchase of products that contain semiconductors.
Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst at industry forecaster ACT Research, thinks the truck market will remain strong — at least for a while.
“Vehicle demand remains healthy, if moderating from here, with pent-up demand expected to push into 2023,” he explained. “Finally, some prebuy activity is anticipated prior to the implementation of CARB’s Clean Truck mandate, helping to support activity next year.”
Buyers, however, can expect increasing prices resulting from rising costs of parts and components.
Those who finance new equipment will see an increase in the cost of borrowing as interest rates continue climbing. On June 15, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, the largest such hike since 1994.
Economists expect further hikes by the end of the year, with some predicting another one-half to three-quarter percent rise at the Fed’s July meeting.
Of the individual truck manufacturers reporting, Freightliner led the way with U.S. sales of 8,129 trucks, good for 36.4% of new Class 8 sales during June. Sales increased 11.2% over May’s 7,309 and 9.5% over sales of 7,426 in June 2021.
Kenworth and Peterbilt sales combined gave PACCAR 29.6% of the June U.S. market. Kenworth’s 3,194 tractors sold was an increase of 13.9% over May sales of 2,803 and 16.4% higher than sales of 2,743 in June 2021. Peterbilt sales of 3,418 were up 1.3% in June, up from May’s 3,375 and 19.9% higher than June 2021 sales of 2,851.
Sales of 2,679 Volvo trucks were 5.2% higher than the 2,546 sold in May, while they were a whopping 82% higher than the 1,472 sold in June a year ago.
Mack sold 1,560 trucks in June, an increase of 13.7% over May’s 1,372 but a decline of 3.8% from June 2021 sales of 1,704.
International reported sales of 2,927 in June, up 4.6% over May sales numbers but down 3.8% from the 3,043 sold in June 2021. The company moved 13.1% of the new Class 8 trucks sold on the U.S, market in June.
Western Star’s 451 trucks sold in June represent just 2.0% of the U.S. market and a decline of 60 trucks, or 11.7% from May sales of 511 trucks.
Compared to June 2021 when 601 trucks were sold, sales declined by 25.0%
Truck sales are typically stronger in the last month of each quarter, a fact that very likely contributed to the higher June numbers.
The month of July, being the first month of the new quarter, usually sees sales numbers that are somewhat lower.
With the number of variables presented so far this year, however, no sales prediction is foolproof.
The availability of more parts and components could push production closer to capacity. Another variable are trucks already built, waiting on the lot for one or two final parts to be installed before being sold. If the parts come in, those trucks could be sold without a production increase on the assembly line.
Finally, it’s nearly time for manufacturers to begin producing 2023 model trucks.
Buyers could choose to wait for the new models to come out or could rush to buy 2022 models before prices go up.
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.