MATS Equipment Vendors See Stronger Truck Market

Cite Stronger Economy, No Major Issues with Japanese Suppliers
John Sommers II for TT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Vendors at the Mid-America Trucking Show said that the growing U.S. economy will support a stronger truck equipment market this year and for the next few years, at least.

Supplier problems related to the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear reactor problems in Japan have been limited so far, they said on the eve of MATS, which officially opens Thursday.

“At this time, we don't see any issue” with supply chains from Japan, said Joe McAleese, president and CEO of components manufacturer Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems.

McAleese said that with the economic recovery beginning in 2010, he expects truck sales to increase 35% this year and that the industry will see growth for at least the next two to three years.

After several years of “challenging market conditions,” the heavy-duty truck manufacturing business is growing, said Bill Jackson, general manager of Peterbilt Motors.

Jackson said fleets are beginning to replace vehicles they held onto during the recession, adding that trucking “has not seen age like this in the history of the industry.”

He estimated the heavy-duty truck market this year would be 210,000 vehicles, and said Peterbilt has already added a shift and is ready to ramp up production throughout the year.

Jackson added that there have been “no hiccups” so far in obtaining components from suppliers in Japan, but that the company would “watch it as it happens.”