ACT Research: N.A. Commercial Vehicle Orders Healthy, Economic Recovery K-Shaped

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, the US economy is recovering from the early-year pandemic-driven shutdowns, but on a K-shaped trajectory, rather than the earlier speculated V, U, or L-like paths. What this means is that a large swath of the economy has enjoyed something approximating a V-shaped recovery, even as major economic segments remain mired on an L-shaped trajectory.

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.

“Fortunately for freight economy, the pattern has been more V-shaped,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “Demand for goods, both durable and nondurable, began to surge in May, as consumers stopped spending on experiences. From January to July, consumer spending on services fell 9.7%, while during the same period durable goods spending was up 10.5% and nondurable expenditures rose 4.2%.”

Used 9.18.20

By commercial vehicle segment, Vieth commented, “The rebound in carriers’ fortunes has been a positive for the front-end of the demand spectrum. Supported by strong US tractor demand, NA Class 8 net orders remained healthy in August, up nearly 74% from year-ago levels. Medium-duty vehicle sales also are benefiting from the consumption audible toward goods and away from services, with August’s North American Classes 5-7 net orders up 10% from July and down just 2% on a year-over-year basis.”

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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