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July 15, 2020 11:00 AM, EDT

Medium-Duty Sales in June Slide 18.8%

Navistar International truckA Navistar medium-duty International MV series truck. (Navistar)

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U.S. retail sales of Classes 4-7 medium-duty trucks in June dropped 18.8% to just under 18,000 units, WardsAuto.com reported, with long slides down in the two heaviest segments and a small combined step up for the lowest two.

Sales fell to 17,515 compared with 21,574 a year earlier.

Sales for the first six months were down 18.6% to 99,281 compared with 121,991 in the 2019 period.

Class 7 sales were 3,798, down 25.9% compared with 5,123 a year earlier. Freightliner, a brand of Daimler Trucks North America, was the sales leader. International, a brand of Navistar Inc., was second. They were separated by 479 trucks, and their combined sales accounted for 68.2% of the total sales in Class 7.

Class 6 sales plunged 46.7% to 3,575 compared with 6,711 in the 2019 period. International edged out Freightliner 966-956 for the top spot. Four other brands sold a combined 1,653 trucks in the class.

Classes 4-5 sales inched up 4.1% to 10,142 compared with 9,740 a year earlier.

ACT Vice President Steve Tam

Tam

“Classes 4-5 continue to outperform expectations,” ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam told Transport Topics. “Our current call is for this segment to drop about 30% [in 2020]. For the larger medium-duty vehicles, we are looking for Classes 6-7 to fall about 35%, with similar expectations for the whole of the Classes 4-7 market.”

Tam said things are progressing as expected for Classes 6-7.

“This continues to be largely a lease-rental and private-fleet story, with capital budgets being cut, leading to below replacement demand,” he said. “Same for government and municipal markets, whose tax revenues are suffering mightily.”

He added, “Honestly, there is no magic between classes. All of the configurations that go on these chassis are scalable. So a small beverage-delivery truck could be a Class 6, but it could also be a Class 5 or a Class 7.

“Just change the length of the frame rails and either add to or take away from suspension slash weight carrying capacity, and it is what you want it to be. Perhaps Class 6 is a just a good middle ground from which to move up or down.”

In related news, Mack Trucks, a unit of Volvo Group, announced serial production of its MD Series of Classes 6-7 trucks was rescheduled to Sept. 1 from July 1. Mack invested $13 million in a new manufacturing facility in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley.

“The start was delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” a spokesman said.

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