ACT Research: Despite Expected Inbound Recession, Some Factors Mitigate a Sharper Downturn

According to ACT’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, ACT shifted forecasts last month to incorporate an inbound recession, and this month’s forecast changes were mostly characterized by smaller adjustments, both higher and lower, as the shape of their downturn forecasts were fine-tuned.

The N.A. CV OUTLOOK is a robust report that forecasts the future of the industry, looking at the next 1-5 years, with the objective of giving OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and investment firms the information needed to plan accordingly for what is to come. The report provides a complete overview of the North American markets, as well as takes a deep dive into relevant, current market activity to highlight orders, production, and backlogs, shedding light on the forecast. Information included in this report covers forecasts and current market conditions for medium and heavy-duty trucks/tractors, and trailers, the macroeconomies of the US, Canada, and Mexico, publicly-traded carrier information, oil and fuel price impacts, freight and intermodal considerations, and regulatory environment impacts.

"More persistent rate tightening, beyond the 100bps of additional tightening we expect through the balance of 2022, represents a downside risk to our current forecast." Kenny viethAccording to Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst, “We are raising our 2022 forecast, reflecting better-than-expected production in June, and some easing of supply conditions, although we believe industry production will continue to be capacity constrained. Our now-higher forecast remains incrementally below the OEMs’ aggregate industry build plan.” Opining on Federal Reserve policy, he indicated, “More persistent rate tightening, beyond the 100bps of additional tightening we expect through the balance of 2022, represents a downside risk to our current forecast.” When asked about next year, Vieth said, “The combination of falling freight rates, higher carrier operating costs, rising interest rates, and falling used equipment valuations represent increasing risks to vehicle demand as we move into 2023. However, while we are marking down our forecast, 2023 is still projected to be a very good year, just not as good as we were expecting, as tailwinds are blowing less hard amid rising headwinds.”

Vieth concluded by discussing the potential impact to commercial vehicle markets, “We continue to see at least three factors mitigating a more severe downturn.” Vieth noted, “Carrier profitability is strong, with profits at all-time record levels in 2021, and full-year TL fleet profits are pegged at second-best ever levels in 2022. Vehicle demand remains healthy, if moderating from here, with pent-up demand expected to support demand into 2023. Finally, some prebuy activity is anticipated prior to the implementation of CARB’s Clean Truck mandate, helping to support activity into year-end.”

ACT Research is recognized as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies. ACT Research is a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel. ACT Research executives have received peer recognition, including election to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, appointment as Consulting Economist to the National Private Truck Council, and the Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Economic Indicators’ Most Accurate Economic Forecast over a four-year period. ACT Research senior staff members have earned accolades including Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium Best Overall Forecast, Wall Street Journal Top Economic Outlook, and USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters. More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

ACT’s 67th Seminar is scheduled for August 23-25, 2022. The focus will be the potential impact of decarbonization and autonomous technology on commercial vehicles and on-highway transportation. Each event ACT shares its best-in-class data and forecast in presentations, as well as featuring guest speakers to dive into topics of interest for the benefit of attendees. The agenda includes key industry leaders, who will be announced at a later date. For more information about Seminar 67 Watts Under The Hood: Transportation Transformation, click here: https://www.actresearch.net/seminar-67/.

ACT Research recently completed POWER UP, a look at 7 global regions and more than 20 countries in a review of local regulations, infrastructure, and the impact on the adoption of battery and fuel cell electric commercial vehicles through 2040. This forecast is the first of its kind, a review of the decarbonization of commercial vehicles around the world. POWER UP is available now at https://www.actresearch.net/power-up/.

Additionally, ACT Research published an update to CHARGING FORWARD, a North American-centric battery and fuel cell electric vehicle adoption rate forecast, covering 23 vehicle applications, in Classes 4-8 commercial vehicles, through 2040. CHARGING FORWARD is considered by many industry leaders to be the apex of analysis and economic-based total cost of ownership modeling in the industry. And, it is now available for purchase at https://www.actresearch.net/electric-vehicles-charge/.

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