ACT Research: Despite Strong Demand, N.A. CV Output Gripped by Supply Constraints

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, the problems currently being faced by the N.A. commercial vehicle industry are not ones of new vehicle demand, but rather, ones of supply.

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 3_17_2021“With orders remaining hot, backlogs and backlog-to-build ratios jumping, and new vehicle inventories snug, it’s stating the obvious to say that the supply chain’s ability to respond to demand will be the critical determinant of commercial vehicle production this year,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “To varying degrees, the challenge at the beginning of every cycle is ramping-up the manufacturing base to meet rising levels of demand. Thinking back over previous cycles, those early cycle constraints typically include parts that require longer lead times to materially ramp-up output.” Vieth noted, “While anecdotes indicate that traditional cyclical parts constraints are in play, they may be taking a backseat to more cycle-specific constraints driven by the simultaneous global ramp in economic activity overlaid with pandemic-specific challenges, such as chip shortages, oxygen diverted from industrial to medical uses, steel shortages, and the struggle to keep and grow staff in a pandemic.”

By commercial vehicle segment, Vieth commented, “The economy is growing in all the right places for freight, and freight rates and carrier profits have pushed into record territory. This classic set of early-cycle conditions historically drives a freight cycle that runs for around two years, and that strong setup is reflected in Class 8 orders, which are nearing best-ever territory.” Regarding the medium-duty segment, he noted, “The market continues to put down strong numbers, reflecting broad-based strength in goods demand and construction.”

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 commercial electric vehicle study, Charging Forward: 2020-2024 BEV & FCEV Forecast & Analysis, is due to publish 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, go to

What’s coming next in 2021 and 2022? ACT’s 65th OUTLOOK Seminar is the planning event for your business needs. Mark your calendar for August 24-26, 2021 to gain market updates and forecasts from ACT’s award-winning, veteran team with more than 200 years of combined industry experience. Click here for more details.

Click below to: 

Access more information about ACT’s State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report.

Access more information about ACT Research’s other publications and services.

Access March's State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles Preliminary Press Release. 

Access February's State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles Press Release.

In the News Page.

Back to Blog

Related Articles

ACT Research: N.A. Commercial Vehicle Demand Strongly Positioned to Start 2021

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

ACT Research: Constraints Restrain 2021 CV Expectations

According to ACT’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, the demand...

ACT Research: Heavy-Duty Vehicle Demand Hotter Than Supply Can Match

According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, supply will be the determining...