In September, Class 8 trucks' retail sales were 4% higher than the previous record of December 2006, reaching 28,000. Sales were up 20% year-over-year, with OEM's reported robust activity for the month.
Sales had been strong for the last five months, and September was predicted to be similar. However, the record activity was a surprise, especially since there were fewer sales days in the month.
Despite slowing freight growth, some fleets are still expanding and need more trucks. Sales were also boosted by fleets taking delivery of some large orders that had been sitting on OEM lots during the summer. In addition, carriers have cash to spend to replace older units. Meanwhile, reports indicate some OEMs are offering discounts to reduce record-high inventories, potentially creating an ideal setting to trade trucks in.
Still, sales are expected to pull back in October and November as the industry adjusts to a softer freight environment. FTR expects sales volume to drop by more than 20% in the new year as well.
“September should be considered a fluke as fleets delayed taking some deliveries in the summer and the sales all closed in September. Still, it was great sales month for Class 8 trucks. It will be a much tighter market going forward as fleet expansion slows due to the weaker freight environment. The market is slipping back to replacement level, but fleets are still profitable, so this should stabilize sales,” says Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles.