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February 16, 2021 12:15 PM, EST

January Classes 4-7 Sales Align With Expectations

Ford F650/750Ford F650/750. Ford Motor Co. posted the largest percentage gain in the Class 6 segment. (Ford Motor Co.)

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Classes 4-7 U.S. retail sales in January climbed 14.3% compared with a year earlier, led by a surge in the Class 6 segment, WardsAuto.com reported.

Sales hit 18,602, compared with 16,269 in the 2020 period.

January’s overall sales were “between the lines and pretty much as expected,” said Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research. He said the surge in Class 6 was a sign truck rental and leasing companies were “fleeting up for the year.”

Class 6 sales surged 55.3% to 6,150 compared with 3,961 a year earlier, according to Wards.

“Purchases by leasing and rental companies have accelerated, no question about it,” said W.M. “Rusty” Rush, chairman and CEO of dealership chain Rush Enterprises, during his company’s Q4 earnings call. “They can’t stay out of the market long. They have to turn them things. They are back in the market much stronger this year than they were last year.”

In Class 6, Freightliner had the most sales, 2,772, or 43% more compared with 1,196 a year earlier. The company noted the 2020 period was below average compared to the typical order cycle, which accounted for the change.

Freightliner is a unit of Daimler Trucks North America.

Ford Motor Co. posted the largest percentage gain in the Class 6 segment, up 49.8% on sales of 1,481 compared with 739 in the 2020 period. It is offering online sales incentives of $4,000 and $4,500 for its model year 2022 trucks in this segment and Class 7 when financed through Ford Credit.

Meanwhile, getting the finished trucks into the hands of customers may tail off from a normal schedule. Rush said he expects the industry in 2021 will find parts of the supply chain constrained and may “face challenges related to manufacturers’ production lead times.”

Class 7 sales in January fell to 3,929, down 6% compared with 4,179 a year earlier.

In Classes 4-5, sales rose 4.8% to 8,523 compared with 8,129 in the 2020 period.

In related Class 5 news, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. announced it has begun production of its new Class 5 gasoline-powered trucks. The manufacturer’s NRR model is the first 19,500-pound GVWR low cab forward truck in the segment to offer a gasoline engine option, according to the Anaheim, Calif.-based company, a unit of Isuzu Motors.

The 6.0-liter V8 engine has been certified and supplied by Power Solutions International, and is built from a General Motors Inc. Vortec V8 block that has been customized to Isuzu specifications. The power plant produces 311 horsepower and generates 351 pound-ft. of torque at 4,150 rpm.

The trucks will be assembled by Builtmore, a division of the Shyft Group, in Charlotte, Mich.

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