May 18, 2022 3:06 PM, EDT

Medium-Duty Sales in April Present Mixed Picture

International Terrastar truckAn International TerrStar medium-duty truck with a dump body. The combined Classes 4-5 segment in April dropped 38.1% to 7,117 compared with 11,502 a year earlier. (International)

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Classes 4-7 U.S. retail sales in April dropped 15.4% compared with a year earlier as the combined Classes 4-5 posted a larger segment decline, more than double the overall one, Wards Intelligence reported.

Total sales were 16,439 compared with 19,431 a year earlier.

“In the medium-duty space [Classes 5-7], we are forecasting U.S. retail sales to be 228,000 this year compared with 221,200 last year,” ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam said.“So still GDP-type growth at 3%.”

ACT Vice President Steve Tam


Year-to-date sales in Classes 4-7 fell 10.7% to 70,729 compared with 79,185 in the 2021 period, and sales were lower for the period in all segments.

In April, the two largest classes posted gains.

Class 7 increased 2.6% to 3,736. Class 6 jumped 30.3% to 5,586.

The combined Classes 4-5 segment dropped 38.1% to 7,117 compared with 11,502 a year earlier, and to its lowest volume this year.

Class 4 sales slid to 1,497 compared with 2,122 a year earlier.

But a steep decline in Class 5 sales was the main factor.

That segment fell to 5,620 sales compared with 9,380 in the 2021 period, according to Wards. Ford Motor Co. sold 2,490, or 44% — down from 4,674 a year earlier in Class 5.

Ford CEO


“We’re getting more and more interested as a company, maybe as a bit of a strategic shift, on goods movement,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said during the company’s latest earnings call. “It’s aligned with our commercial vehicle business, and our customers feel they’re getting more and more interested in middle-mile specifically.”

Tam said he suspects the drop in Class 5 was just the truck makers, such as Freightliner and International, diverting parts from Class 5 to higher margin vehicles.

Freightliner is a brand of Daimler Truck North America, and International is a Navistar brand.


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“And the reason you don’t see as much of that in Class 4 is, if you look at who is in the Class 4 market,” he said, “it’s [typically] dominated by Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. So there’s really not as much opportunity for them to divert,” to heavier, higher margin trucks.

The flip side is Class 6 is growing, he said.

“Class 6 is enjoying a renaissance, and that goes back to the rental company customers and private fleets,” he said. “If anyone’s got buying power now, it’s those bigger names.”

In related news, Salt River Project, the Phoenix metropolitan area’s largest electricity provider as well as largest water supplier, recently received a Kenworth K270E battery-electric vehicle.

It intends the Class 6 flatbed to be used by eight departments, so the utility provider can observe how the vehicle serves unique requirements, including transporting various utility equipment during a trial period.

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