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October 29, 2020 2:15 PM, EDT

September Used Class 8 Sales Flat

Used Trucks John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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The price of the average used Class 8 sold in September neared $40,000, building on recent gains, and sales were nearly flat compared with a year earlier, ACT Research reported.

Sales reached 20,200 in September, dipping slightly compared with 20,500 a year earlier, but up from 18,500 in August, according to ACT’s estimate.

Year-to-date, sales fell to 176,300 compared with 187,500 in September 2019.

Meanwhile, there have been four months of sequential increases in the average sales price.

“At the same time, we are in our 17th month now of year-over-year declines in the average monthly price. But we are getting very close to turning the corner on that,” ACT Vice President Steve Tam told Transport Topics.

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“In fact there is a really good chance to hit a year-over-year increase this October if we just stay where we are now with prices,” he said.

In September, the average Class 8 cost $39,371 compared with $41,542 a year earlier, and $38,425 in August.

In October 2019, the price was $38,700.

“And November and December last year weren’t particularly strong either. So we are at that inflection point that suggests, longer term, we are to start seeing improvement in prices,” Tam said.

“Even though prices are going up, the trucks buyers can get, for let’s just say $40,000, are still quality trucks with a good amount of usable economic life, think miles or years,” he said.

The mileage on the average used Class 8 was 453,000 compared with 459,000 miles a year earlier. Its average age was 6 years, six months, compared with 7 years, three months, in the 2019 period.

Each month, ACT surveys a sample of dealers, wholesalers and auctioneers as well as a few large fleets to determine average price, age and mileage, and estimated industry volumes.

In related news, ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index, with September data, reported, “the combination of strong demand and tight supply pushed the supply-demand balance to its tightest level in survey history, now at 74.1.”

“We are going to end up at some time with too many trucks and not enough freight,” Tam said. “It’s the same thing that happens in any downturn. But we are not there by any stretch of the imagination. We are still on the front end of that curve.”

Meanwhile, Ryder System Inc. has launched its new used vehicle sales website to bring available inventory of used vehicles closer to prospective customers.

“We can fill all the [used equipment] needs of last mile e-commerce deliveries, regional and cross-county shipments. We opened seven new Ryder Used Truck Centers in 2020 and have plans to open two more before the end of the year,” Eugene Tangney, vice president of global vehicle sales at Ryder, told TT.

He noted Ryder has what he called an “industry-exclusive” ongoing preventive maintenance program that is an available option on the used vehicles it sells.

Ryder has 58 used truck center locations, offering pre-owned tractors, trucks, vans and trailers for sale, he said.

As for the new online portal, Ryder found prospects and customers “are looking to have a similar experience shopping for a work vehicle as they would a new car for personal use,” Tangney said. “And that includes spending much more time researching vehicles online.”

In its third quarter ended Sept. 30, Ryder reported record sales of 8,800 used vehicles, up 66% compared with the 2019 period.

Used vehicle inventory ended the quarter at 10,700 compared with 7,300 a year earlier. The company expects year-end inventory will be within its 7,000-9,000 target range.

Ryder’s proceeds in the quarter were down 11% for tractors and up 1% for trucks.

The used truck market has improved a little bit, James Hopkins, executive director of investor relations at Cummins Inc., said at the Morgan Stanley Virtual 8th Annual Laguna Conference Sept. 16, referring to sales volumes and stabilizing prices.

“But the prices are still meaningfully below where they were a year or two years ago,” Hopkins said. “So the metrics seem to be moving in the right direction, still, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there.”

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