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August 13, 2019 2:45 PM, EDT

Medium-Duty Sales Climb in Summer Market

Medium-duty Isuzu truck Isuzu

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U.S. retail sales of medium-duty trucks in July rose 14% and cleared 22,000 units, WardsAuto.com reported.

Total Classes 4-7 sales reached 22,323 compared with 19,586 a year earlier, according to Ward’s.

Class 7 sales improved slightly, rising 0.9% to 6,186. International, a brand of Navistar Inc., sold the most in the segment, 2,469 for a 40% market share.

Class 6 sales rose 16.6% to 6,878. Ford Motor Co. was the leader with 2,672 sales and a 39% share.

W.M. "Rusty" Rush

Rush

Classes 4-5 sales led the way, rising 22.5% to 9,259. Ford led in Class 5 with 4,081 sales and a 58% share. Isuzu Commercial Truck of America sold the most in Class 4, 1,077, good for a 49% share.

“I see softening in the GDP, but medium-duty is not. While it’s driven by GDP, it’s also driven by dynamics changing with all the hub-and-spoke and last-mile stuff that’s going on,” W.M. “Rusty” Rush, chairman and CEO of Rush Enterprises, said during an earnings conference call.

The company owns and operates 100 Rush Truck Centers in 22 states, and represents multiple medium- and heavy-duty brands in the largest network of commercial vehicle dealerships in the United States.

Addressing the company’s recent second quarter, Rush said, “This was a record-setting quarter for us in the medium-duty truck sales due to our ability to provide a robust inventory of ready-to-roll trucks nationwide and strong demand from construction and rental customers.”

ACT Research forecasts U.S. Classes 4-7 retail sales to be 262,300 units this year, up 1.5% from 2018. “We expect our Class 4-7 sales will remain healthy through the rest of 2019,” ACT said.

Worker at GM truck plant

A line worker installs the front bumper at General Motors Flint Assembly in Flint, Mich. (Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News)

In related news, General Motors has consolidated heavy-duty pickup production at its Flint, Mich., assembly plant. It is sharply increasing production of crew cab and diesel models to meet customer demand. The company has installed new body and paint shops, and created 1,000 jobs to support a capacity increase of 40,000 units compared with the outgoing model, according to a company release.

Trucks began shipping to dealers in the second half of June, with availability expected to grow throughout the third and fourth quarters.

Heavy-duty trucks are about 25% of full-size pickup sales, said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of sales operations. “Our HDs are purpose-built machines for people who need maximum capability, and we are poised for significant growth.”