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July 22, 2022 12:02 PM, EDT

June’s Class 4 Plunge Takes Down Overall Medium-Duty Sales

Navistar Terrastar medium-duty truckA Navistar Terrastar medium-duty truck with a dump body. (Navistar Inc.).

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Classes 4-7 U.S. retail sales in June approached 18,000, down 14.7% compared with a year earlier and largely reflecting a plunge in Classes 4 and 5, Wards Intelligence reported.

Sales reached 17,866 compared with 20,944 a year earlier, according to Wards.

Year-to-date sales fell 12.3% to 105,454 compared with 120,261 in the 2021 period.

ACT Vice President Steve Tam

Tam

Class 7 sales were down 8.2% to 3,589 compared with the previous June, and Class 6 was up 23.8% to 6,236. Classes 4-5 sales plunged 33% to 8,041 compared with 12,000 a year earlier.

“This is a little ugly, isn’t it?” ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam said. “We have been struggling to play catch up all year in the medium-duty space. It continues to be the case that many of the medium-duty products are taking a backseat to their larger brethren.”

That robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul approach should change a bit going forward based on truck makers’ latest forecasts.

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Tam said manufacturers’ production plans detailed in June and looking out through the rest of the year are slightly lower on the Class 8 side, 313,000 in 2022 from about the 315,000 they expected in May “and either coincidentally, or perhaps not, the Classes 5-7 numbers were up by a similar amount.”

Tam said it was understandable that Class 4 has been struggling compared with a year earlier.

“2021 was the best year for Class 4 since 2008,” he said. “Part of the pain is really tough comps.”

Full-year 2021 Class 4 sales hit 28,428 compared with 36,374 in the 2008 period, according to Wards.

In Class 6, Ford Motor Co. led with 1,860 sales, followed by Freightliner, a brand of Daimler Truck North America, with 1,510 and International, a brand of Navistar Inc., with 1,491.

A mix of other truck makers — including Chevrolet, Hino, Isuzu, Paccar Inc. and Mack Trucks — delivered the segment’s remaining 1,375 units.

Tim Resser

Tim Resser of Lightning eMotors via LinkedIn

“I like the Wards data, and it is fascinating to see how all the data rolls up, wraps up,” Tim Reeser, founder and CEO of Loveland, Colo.-based Lightning eMotors, told Transport Topics.

Speaking of June’s volume, Reeser said it was just a matter of not having even more trucks to sell.

Many trucks are parked around the factories awaiting final parts, he said. “So there is a long backlog of these vehicles. And whether we are talking ICE [internal combustion engines] or electric, there continues to be a strong demand.”

Lightning’s electric bread and butter is with Classes 4-6 vehicles and some Class 3. It specializes in ones that are complex and serve a specialized market segment, such as Class 6 refrigerated trucks, an electric bucket truck (under development) or an ambulance “where there’s very little electric vehicle competition.”

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