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November 16, 2021 12:45 PM, EST

October Classes 4-7 Sales Stall

First Medium-Duty Trucks Join SuperTruck Program
Mack MD Mack MD Series by Mack Trucks

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U.S. retail sales in October of Class 4 through Class 7 medium-duty commercial vehicles were almost flat compared with a year earlier at just above 21,000, WardsAuto.com reported.

Total sales were 21,333, down 1.3% compared with 21,616 a year earlier.

The collective increase rested on the gains in the Classes 4-5 segment, which increased 3.6%; otherwise sales in Classes 6-7 declined 4.2% and 9.8%, respectively.

Class 7 sales were 4,307 compared with 4,777 a year earlier.

Class 6 sales slipped to 5,136 compared with 5,360 in the 2020 period.

Classes 4-5 sales increased to 11,890 compared with 11,479 in the year-ago period.

“It’s interesting hanging your hat on that lighter stuff,” Steve Tam, vice president of ACT Research, told Transport Topics. “But that’s kind of the reality of the situation right now. I still think we are seeing some shifting around in terms of how demand is getting fulfilled.”

He pointed out consumers’ buying patterns are shifting with more people buying more things online, “and then consequently the folks who are participating in that space are stoked and throwing money at equipment for the last-mile, home delivery market. That is a lot of what’s driving what you are seeing there.”

The driver shortage could be holding back Class 7 sales somewhat, since that truck requires the driver to have a CDL, he added. In Class 6, the large lease/rental companies are not necessarily in the marketplace at this time of year.

In related news, the Department of Energy expanded its SuperTruck 3 program to include funding for battery-electric and fuel cell medium-duty trucks from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

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For Veterans Day, host and Navy veteran Michael Freeze sits down with Army veterans James Rogers, owner of Spartan Direct Trucking Co. and 2020 Transport Topics Trucking's Frontline Hero, and John Baxter, equipment columnist. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

Several other truck makers are also at work on battery-electric medium-duty vehicles.

DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office confirmed these were the first medium-duty trucks ever to be included in the SuperTruck program.

The announcement aligns with DOE’s commitment to reaching President Joe Biden’s goals of having zero-emission vehicles make up half of all vehicles sold in America by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions economywide by 2050, DOE noted.

DOE reported the projects will be funded over five years, subject to appropriations, and recipients will match federal funding, dollar for dollar:

  • Ford Motor Co. will develop and demonstrate five hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 6 Super Duty trucks targeting cost, payload, towing and refueling times that are equivalent to conventional gasoline trucks. Its award was $24,952,314.
  • General Motors will develop and demonstrate four hydrogen fuel cell and four battery-electric Classes 4-6 trucks. The project will also focus on development of clean hydrogen via electrolysis and clean power for fast charging. Its award was $26,061,726.

“This DOE investment, along with manufacturer direct investments, will ensure this market continues to see progress, too,” Jason Mathers, director of the Environmental Defense Fund, posted in a recent blog.

Year-to-date sales of Classes 4-7 vehicles increased 13.6% to 198,731 compared with 174,928 a year earlier.

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