ACT Research: Carriers Add Capacity, While US Industrial Downturn Deepens

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report, parts of the freight economy may be flashing the occasional “green shoot,” but it is not completely clear whether the industry has reached the nadir of the current freight cycle.

ACT’s State of the Industry: 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.

animation - 2019-11-18T170259.078-1“Despite the fact that carriers are showing signs of pulling back, they continue to add capacity, with all-time record retail sales in September as a testament to the phenomenon,” said Steve Tam, ACT Research’s Vice President. He explained, “Unfortunately, they could not do so at a worse time. Uncertainty with respect to trade and tariffs abounds, and as a result, the US industrial downturn appears to be deepening, with rail volume weakness spreading to all segments and declines worsening. Even consumers, who have remained undaunted thus far, are giving some cause for concern, with medium duty orders notably below trend in October.”

Speaking about the Class 8 market, Tam said, “Following weak freight volumes and rates, forward-looking indicators portend expected slowing. October marks the first manifestation of the recognition of the unsustainability of elevated production levels.”

Regarding the medium duty markets, he commented, “Activity in the medium duty segment remains considerably more stable than for its heavy duty counterpart, but is also displaying growing signs of fatigue, particularly in order intake, output and inventory levels.”

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

ACT’s 62nd seminar is scheduled for February 11-13, 2020, and will feature trucker, electrification, and economic panels, as well as discussions on near-term demand of North American commercial vehicle markets and the pending impact of electrification on the market in the near future. A commercial vehicle database workshop is also being planned in conjunction with this semi-annual event.

Trucks 11.18.19
Back to Blog

Related Articles

ACT Research: Demand Strength and Stagnating Freight Growth Continue for North American CV Industry

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report, April’s Class 8...

ACT Research: Industry Currently Astride Class 8 Demand Inflection

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report, June’s Class 8...

ACT Research: Class 8 Production Outpaced Weak Sales in January

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, Class 8...