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December 22, 2014 1:40 AM, EST

Medium-Duty Truck Sales Edge Up in November

By Seth Clevenger, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Dec. 22 & 29 print edition of Transport Topics.

Medium-duty truck sales in the United States cooled in November, edging up 0.7% from a year earlier but falling 23.3% from the previous month, WardsAuto.com reported.

November’s total of 13,257 was the lowest for Classes 4-7 trucks since February, according to Ward’s data. October sales, in comparison, stood at 17,279 units, the second-highest level in 6½ years.

Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research, said the sequential drop-off in November was a typical seasonal occurrence rather than a sign that demand is weakening.

“Year in and year out, we see that run-up in October, a drop in November and a run back

up in December,” Tam told Transport Topics.

With one month remaining in the year, sales of medium-duty trucks stood at 167,611 units, up 11.5% from 150,412 in the same timeframe in 2013.

Tam said truck manufacturers’ financial calendars play a role in seasonal buying patterns.

“There is a big push at the end of the fiscal year, be that October or December,” Tam said.

Navistar International Corp., for example, operates on fiscal years that end Oct. 31. The manufacturer sold 2,388 medium-duty trucks in October, compared with 1,310 in November, according to Ward’s data.

Consumer patterns also play a role, Tam said.

“There are particular customers who are in the marketplace during that October timeframe, and the distinct absence of those customers in November causes things to drop back to earth,” he said.

“The medium-duty guys have been a little bit more reticent to add capacity or to replace, but they’re getting there,” Tam said.

Sales of Class 7 trucks rose to 3,721 in November, up 5.4% from the same month last year. Class 6 sales, however, fell 5.7% to 3,211 units.

Those results marked a reversal from October, when Class 6 sales jumped 25.2%, but Class 7 slipped 5%.

Combined sales of Classes 4 and 5 trucks rose 1.5% to 6,325 during November.

Manufacturers’ sales results were mixed.

On a year-over-year basis, medium-duty sales for Navistar’s International brand increased 3.9% last month.

Sales of Daimler Trucks North America’s Freightliner brand declined 4.2% to 2,894 trucks, while Mitsubishi Fuso sales fell 22.7% to 140.

Isuzu sales dipped 1.2% to 1,270 units, but Hino posted a 26% increase to 815 trucks.

Kenworth medium-duty sales jumped 40.4% to 497 trucks, and Peterbilt sales rose 7.6% to 470.

Ford’s medium-duty sales declined 11.5% to 4,728 units during the month. Dodge’s sales climbed 28.1% to 1,404.