ACT Research: N.A. Commercial Vehicle Demand Continues Strong Upward Trend

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, the pandemic’s toll has not been evenly distributed across the US economy. Transportation is one segment that has fared better than others, and that, in turn, has spurred a revival in commercial vehicle demand as the year has progressed.

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.

“The pandemic’s toll has been horrific, not just in terms of lives lost, which continue to accelerate, but as well in consideration of economic potential missed,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “For context, had the economy grown at 2% in 2020, it would have been $1.1 trillion larger than it was in 2019.” However, Vieth noted, “Despite that eye-popping statement, critical freight-generating sectors have soared as the pandemic shifted consumer spending away from service-sector spending and toward trucking-reliant spending on goods. But that’s only part of the story. Equally important in regard to the current demand situation is the large driver capacity take-out that occurred in April, and the industry’s inability to quickly add drivers has been a critical component in the persistent rise in freight rates.”

Used 11.19.2020

By commercial vehicle segment, Vieth commented, “October’s statistics were not as synchronized as in September, but otherwise reflected the strong upward demand swing, with materially higher orders and backlogs in the Class 8 category. While increasing in the aggregate, medium-duty market outcomes vary by sector due to COVID’s impact, with truck and RV chassis segments showing strength, while social distancing has negatively impacted school bus demand.”

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 64th Seminar is scheduled for February 23-25, 2021. Focused on the continuous evolution and advancement of power and energy changes in the transportation and commercial vehicle markets, OUTLOOK Seminar 64 will feature key industry leaders such as Ryan Reed of Wabash National, John Bennett from Meritor, Lance Riegel of Marvin Johnson, and Dominick Beckman from Hino Motors. Look for more details on this event over the coming months and save the date for February’s event. Click here for seminar information

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