December Classes 4-7 Retail Sales Stumble

Navistar eMV Series electric medium-duty truck on the assembly line
An eMV Series electric medium-duty truck on the assembly line at Navistar's plant in San Antonio. (Joe Howard/Transport Topics)

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U.S. retail sales for medium-duty trucks experienced a 6.2% year-over-year decline in December, Wards Intelligence reported.

Classes 4-7 saw total retail sales decrease to 20,932 from 22,326 last year. Medium-duty truck sales posted only one positive month in 2022 compared with a year earlier, an 11.7% rise in August.

“The beauty of the medium-duty market, at least relative to the Class 8 market, is its stability,” ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam said. “It’s much more diversified than what we see in the Class 8 market, which tends to be very beholden to what’s happening with manufacturing and freight.”



The decline primarily was driven by a 27% drop in Classes 4-5 truck sales to 8,812 from 12,075. Class 6 had the biggest year-over-year gain at 18.5% to 7,350 from 6,204. Class 7 wasn’t far behind, increasing 17.9% to 4,770 from 4,047.

“There’s this huge services component that comprises of not an insignificant proportion of the market that is serviced by the medium-duty equipment,” Tam said. “And so in that regard, you tend to see the two cycle together. But the amplitude of the cycles is the much lower highs and much higher lows.”

ACT Research had estimated that medium-duty truck sales would be down about 5% during the month. The eventual 6.2% decline falls close to that forecast. Tam also noted that Classes 6-7 have been the most challenged segments of the medium-duty market.

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“The manufacturers have allocated scarce resources more in favor of the heavy-duty trucks because they have better profit margins than in the medium-duty,” Tam said. “But the home delivery industry makes significant use of Class 6 vehicles because they’re under CDL. You can just hire a warm body as opposed to actually having somebody who is going to have credentials to drive the truck.

“And so, it’s just a testament to how pent up demand is. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about over-the-road tractors or local box truck deliveries, it’s just pervasive throughout the industry.”

Freightliner, a brand of Daimler Truck North America, sold the most trucks in the Class 7 category at 2,046. Ford sold the most in Class 6 at 2,340 as well as Class 5 at 3,127. Isuzu sold the most units in Class 4 at 1,148.

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