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November 17, 2020 12:30 PM, EST

Medium-Duty Sales Down 7% as Classes 6-7 Post Biggest Drops

Mack TrucksMack medium-duty truck. (Mack Trucks)

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U.S. retail sales in October of Classes 4-7 trucks were down about 7%, WardsAuto.com reported, as they went head-to-head against record year-earlier comparisons.

The two heaviest segments each fell about 30%. That was offset by a gain in the two combined lightest classes, which posted the most sales.

Total medium-duty sales were 21,616, down 6.8% compared with 23,184 a year earlier, according to Wards.

Year-to-date sales were 174,928, down 17.1% compared with 210,930 in the 2019 period.

The numbers, though down year-over-year, generally were encouraging, ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam said.

“The backstory is that we are still up against tough comps,” he said. “In fact, for Classes 4-7 combined, October 2019 was the peak of this century.”

Class 7

One analyst said the refrigerated segment of the medium-duty market has been one of the hardest hit as service-related businesses, especially, felt the economy-hammering restrictions from the novel coronavirus pandemic, which is surging again across most of the country.

“Food and beverage sales are really the sole drivers of the refrigerated truck market,” Paul Kroes, Thermo King market insights leader for North America, said in a recent webinar. “So until restaurants and venues start to open up because of COVID-19 subsiding, you are not going to see a revival in the truck market to what we had last year.”

Also, medium-duty equipment doesn’t age out in a trade cycle like Class 8 tractors typically do, he said. “If a piece of [medium-duty] equipment is sitting idle, the clock basically stops.”

Meanwhile, sales in Class 7 fell 28.3% to 4,777 compared with 6,667 a year earlier.

Class 6 sales fell 31.3% to 5,360 compared with 7,803 a year earlier in the 2019 period.

Class 6

Wards noted Mack Trucks, through October, sold 15 of its new Class 6 models with a gross vehicle weight rating of 25,995 pounds. Initial production began in July, and series production got underway in September.

Mack Trucks is a unit of Volvo Group.

Sales in Classes 4-5 jumped 31.7% to 11,479 compared with 8,714 a year earlier.

4-5

Kroes also forecast more rolling shutdowns to deal with COVID-19 cases nationwide reaching “the highest they have ever been.”

The nation still is not equipped to deal with widespread infections, he said. “Ideally, [the shutdowns] are going to be a lot shorter than the eight to nine weeks we had earlier this year. They might be three to four weeks, but still that’s going to be a painful thing.”

Thermo King, a Trane Technologies company, supplies refrigeration units for the commercial vehicle industry, among others.

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