ACT Research: Commercial Vehicle Demand Still Strong, Supply Remains Constrained

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, build rates are down, with supply chains constrained.

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.

Used 9.21.21Speaking about the supply chain, Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst, said, “While ‘semiconductors’ has become the generic reference for the supply-chain’s shortcomings, in actuality there are scores of parts that continue to be impacted - by the pandemic, by the lingering impact of steel tariffs, and even by the February storm that incapacitated Texas and shutdown swathes of the US plastics industry for two-plus quarters. Like the supply-chains themselves, the issues are not only domestic and not only commercial vehicle.” He added, “Semiconductors might be masking other component issues, but they are at the heart of the supply-chain’s inability to ramp production. Recent news indicates that COVID outbreaks shutdown silicon wafer and sub-assembly plants in Southeast Asia, representing another nail in the coffin of a nearer-term recovery in supply. Even as new ‘fab’ capacity is coming online this year and next, global automotive industry shutdown announcements have become weekly occurrences.”

Regarding commercial vehicle segments, Vieth commented, “After three months in which vehicle orders fell below earlier-in-the-year levels, medium and heavy duty orders each rose to a five-month high in August, reiterating the notion that full backlogs and not a lack of demand were responsible for order weakness.” Additionally, he noted “At ACT’s Seminar 65, dealers on a panel indicated that while there are unsold vehicles, those units are vehicles not delivered, rather than trucks sitting on a lot waiting to be sold. Other anecdotes indicate that the body-builder supply-chain is adding constraints to the completion of vocational medium and heavy duty units.”

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 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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