ACT Research: Class 8 Build Rates Tumbled in July, Counter to Usual Up-cycle Activity

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, there has not been much change in trajectory of macro datapoints that are influencing commercial vehicle demand. Except for the asterisk that is the COVID Delta variant, economic strength is broad-based and concentrated in goods-related economic activity. However, Class 8 build rates tumbled in July.

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.

“Historically, strong orders starting in Q4, the accumulation of large backlogs and growing lead times [BL/BU ratios] are a recipe for production rising sharply at this point in an industry up-cycle,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He continued, “There are growing pains at the start of every cycle, as the supply chain lurches unevenly into higher build rates, but this pandemic recovery cycle has been beset with extraordinary global issues that have amplified traditional ramp-up challenges from steel supplies to domestic staffing to semiconductors.” Vieth concluded, “The Class 8 market saw build rates take a big step backward in July, as OEMs took down days and weeks to compensate for component shortages, especially semiconductors. During the month, Class 8 production fell to a 15-month low, as build per available day dropped materially below trend.”

Used 81921 (1)Regarding the medium-duty segment, Vieth commented, “Classes 5-7 production also took a step back in July, but that step was more orderly and in line with expectations. Like Class 8, the medium duty decline was also the lowest since May 2020’s COVID-shutdown-related output. Additionally, we have heard/read that the heavy-duty OEMs are taking semiconductors away from their medium-duty products to maximize the value of the chips. Some large players in the MD space are doing the same thing, using chips that would have been destined for cars and pickups to maintain Classes 5-7 output.”

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

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ACT’s commercial electric vehicle study, Charging Forward: 2020-2024 BEV & FCEV Forecast & Analysis, was published on March 31, 2021, after months of extensive research. Utilizing industry expertise and analysis, as well as the input from a comprehensive list of key industry study participants, ACT Research has developed a critical guide for battery electric and fuel cell electric unit build and sales forecasts over the next two decades. With coverage of Classes 4-8 commercial vehicles, ACT has identified 14 market subsegments and more than 20 application types; this one-of-a-kind report is a must-have for those investing or investigating electric power opportunities. To learn more or to purchase this report, click here

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