September 14, 2017 11:00 AM, EDT

Medium-Duty Sales Top 21,000 in August, Up 21.8%


U.S retail sales of medium-duty trucks improved 21.8% in August as all classes notched gains.

Sales of classes 4-7 trucks were 21,010 compared with 17,243 in the 2016 period, Ward’ reported.

Year-to-date, sales increased 6.2% to 146,811, compared with 138,203 a year earlier, according to Ward’s.

“That’s in line with where our full-year expectations are,” said Steve Tam, vice president of ACT Research Co.

ACT forecasts North American medium-duty production at 250,069 in 2017 and 251,188 in 2018, he said.

“It has continued to be a very stable market,” Tam said.

However, the recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma could provide a bump to near-term sales.

“There could be at least several thousand damaged vehicles in Houston alone,” financial analyst Rhem Wood, of Seaport Global Securities, wrote in an investors note Sept. 12.

Sales in Class 4 and Class 5 improved the most, climbing 37.5% to 8,558.

Ford Motor Co. dominated Class 5 with 4,647 sales out of a total of 6,775.

Isuzu, a unit of Isuzu Motors America Inc., dominated Class 4, selling 1,151 trucks out of the total 1,783 and up from its year-earlier total of 874.

Class 6 sales rose 20.6% to 5,449 trucks. Freightliner, a unit of Daimler Trucks North America, led with sales of 1,754. Ford was second at 1,617.

Class 7 sales increased 7.7% to 7,003. Freightliner was tops by 30 trucks, selling 2,900, compared with International Truck’s 2,870. International is a unit of Navistar International Corp.

One truck dealer said medium-duty sales were rising to support industrial development in nearby Pennsylvania cities, including Hazleton, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

“We have a lot of tire distributors, local factories and some shipping warehouses we sell to,” Alex Nicholas, general manager of Nicholas Wyoming Valley Truck Sales, told Transport Topics.

The Luzerne, Pa.-based dealership sells medium-duty vehicles only made by Hino Trucks and Isuzu.

“Hino has been on the rise more because they offer a bigger truck than Isuzu,” he said.

For example, Hino in August sold 621 Class 6 trucks, up from 463 a year earlier, according to Ward’s.

Customers primarily want reliability, he said,

“I think fuel efficiency is pretty much the same in all of them, and the amenities are pretty close. We work on a bunch of trucks, not just Hino and Isuzu, and there are brands that we see that last a lot longer than others,” Nicholas said.