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COVID-19 Little Impact on February Commercial Vehicle Data

March 19, 2020

According to ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, Class 8 inventory-to-sales ratio, seasonally adjusted, hit 3.5 months in February, while the Classes 5-7 inventory-to-sales ratio dropped from a “highest in a decade” in January to 3.0 months in February.

ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales, and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America. It differentiates market indicators by Class 5, Classes 6-7 chassis and Class 8 trucks and tractors, detailing measures such as backlog, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders, and retail sales. Additionally, Class 5 and Classes 6-7 are segmented by trucks, buses, RVs, and step van configurations, while Class 8 is segmented by trucks and tractors with and without sleeper cabs. This report includes a six-month industry build plan, backlog timing analysis, historical data from 1996 to the present in spreadsheet format, and a ready-to-use graph package. A first-look at preliminary net orders is also published in conjunction with this report.

From a current data perspective, regardless of source, February marks the last month of essentially COVID-free datapoints,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He continued, “While some portion of the US population was working on the assumption that the virus was ‘fake news,’ the rest were still getting their heads around concepts like ‘social separation’ and ‘exponential.’ Decrements in the March data releases will be nothing to compare to the April data we will see in May.”

Speaking about the heavy-duty market, Vieth said, “The Class 8 market in February continued to operate in line with pre-pandemic expectations: massive 2019 demand for Class 8 tractors in a period of falling industrial activity created significant overcapacity that, in turn, caused carrier profitability to fall sharply through the course of last year, setting the stage for weak demand in 2020.”

Regarding the medium-duty markets, he commented, “Prior to COVID-19, medium duty vehicles were benefitting from the strong consumer economy. With the service sector being undermined presently, it is difficult to imagine that Classes 5-7 commercial vehicles won’t be hit hard as a result.”

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