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May 12, 2022 11:14 AM, EDT

Class 8 Sales Flat in April Compared With 2021

KenworthKenworth trucks at a recent industry show. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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U.S. Class 8 retail sales in April were flat compared with a year earlier, coming in at just over 19,000, but continued the  improvement from the lows in the beginning of the year, Wards Intelligence reported.

Sales dipped to 19,052, down 1.3% compared with 19,312 in the 2021 period, according to Wards. 



In March, Class 8 sales were 20,359, and in the first two months of the year were just below 15,000 in both.

Don Ake

Ake

Year-to-date sales dropped 5.9% to 69,184 compared with 73,534 a year earlier.

One industry expert said truck makers are having trouble delivering finished Class 8 trucks to customers and so can’t count them as sold yet.

“I think that the delivery pipeline is impacted by the overall supply chain and also because finished Class 8 inventories at the truck makers are up,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR. “You would not expect that in this [high-demand] market. Inventories are the highest since October 2020 and up 10,000 since the beginning of the year.”

Fleets still need trucks, and not only are they not getting enough of them, the trucks they are getting are getting there slower than normal, he said, calling it a “double whammy.”

ACT Research is holding the line on its 2022 forecast at 244,500 in Class 8 U.S. retail sales.

ACT Vice President Steve Tam

Tam

“We think they have a possibility of making it,” ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam said.

But there are bigger questions about what is happening with inflation and the Federal Reserve’s response.

“Now we are starting to hear warning bells go off all around the globe about other countries having the same situation,” Tam said.

ACT also “took a pretty good whack” to its 2023 forecast for U.S. Class 8 retail sales, dropping it to 257,000. In March, ACT’s forecast was for 285,000 units, about 10% higher, he said.

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“The anecdotes from people we talk with are that it is a continuous struggle to source parts; it’s price, it’s availability, it’s timing. It’s everything. A one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of thing,” Tam said.

Three truck makers in April posted double-digit declines compared with a year earlier: Kenworth Truck Co. (down a leading 13.9% to 2,588 for a market share of 13.6%), International (down 12.8% to 1,911 for a market share of 10%) and Mack Trucks (down 12.2% to 1,448  for a market share of 7.6%). 

Market leader Freightliner slipped 3.2% to 6,837 for a market share of 35.9%.

Navistar CEO Mathias Carlbaum told Transport Topics the company will introduce a proprietary driveline next year.

“We bring [Traton Group] technology to this, and there we do believe we will have a very competitive offering and work our way up,” he said.
Western Star, the smallest truck maker, rose the most — 40.5% to 670 units for a market share of 3.5%. 

“Six or seven years ago, Daimler Truck North America made a significant investment to undertake a full model refresh of our heavy-duty vocational lineup,” said David Carson, DTNA senior vice president of sales. “In the past two years, we’ve launched and been ramping up the production of our Western Star X-Series, which includes both the 49X and 47X.” 

The two new models offer vocational customers tools to improve their own productivity and benefit their own bottom lines “while fueling our own sales increases,” he said, “as we navigate persistent supply chain bottlenecks.”

Volvo Trucks North America jumped the second highest, 25.4% to 2,425. Its market share was 12.7%. 

Peter Voorhoeve

Voorhoeve

When VTNA President Peter Voorhoeve was asked during an interview about the company’s market share, he told TT, “I don’t like it. We grow, but it is small steps.”
He added he is not going to wait for electromobility to help bring an increase.

“I believe with the [diesel] product lineup we have we can further increase our market share,” Voorhoeve said.

Peterbilt Motors Co. rose 6.1% to 3,173 sales for a market share of 16.7%.

Kenworth and Peterbilt are brands of Paccar Inc.

International is a brand of Navistar.

Freightliner and Western Star are brands of DTNA.

VTNA and Mack are brands of Volvo Group.

“The economy is slowing more than we previously expected,” Tam said.

Still, ACT expects 5-6% growth in U.S. Class 8 retail sales in 2023 compared with this year.

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