ACT Research: Post-Lockdown Conditions Idyllic for Commercial Vehicle Demand, But Are Production Levels Sustainable?

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, for much of the past 20 months post-lockdown, economic conditions have been idyllic broadly, and particularly for commercial vehicle demand.

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.

According to Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst, “GDP grew at its fastest rate since 1984, and ACT’s GDP-based freight proxy grew at best-ever levels in 2021. According to Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst, “GDP grew at its fastest rate since 1984, and ACT’s GDP-based freight proxy grew at best-ever levels in 2021. With inflation surging to 40-year highs, treasury yields rising and the Russians camped out on Ukraine’s borders, the outlook is less bright than it was, but it remains pretty darned good, as record corporate profits and consumer wealth look to sustain economic activity as we move through early 2022.” He added, “For commercial vehicle demand, the table remains well-set, with Omicron keeping consumer spending focused on goods and away from services. Freight backlogs at the nation’s ports remain long, inventories need restocking, and pent-up demand for manufactured goods continues to grow. In short, commercial vehicle demand remains well positioned in early 2022.”

Regarding commercial vehicle segment production, Vieth commented, “In the case of Class 8, the OEMs followed December’s high-side production surprise with a second consecutive build plan beat in January. For Classes 5-7, build surged into year-end only to fall sharply in January.” He explained, “Following December’s high-side medium- and heavy-duty production breakout, a consistently asked question has been, ‘Are December’s rates sustainable?’ Clearly, January’s production numbers leave us with a hung jury.”

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 66th Seminar is scheduled for February 22-24, 2022. Focused on the continuous evolution and advancement of autonomous and powertrain technologies in the transportation and commercial vehicle markets, OUTLOOK Seminar 66 will feature key industry leaders from Ford, Transplace, TuSimple, and the EPA, with more being added to the agenda. February’s event features three panels (US Economics, Trucker & Transportation, and Autonomous Ecosystem), as well as a fireside chat with the EPA, discussions about fleet decarbonization, electric vehicle forecasts, and reviews of freight/transportation, Class 8, Classes 5-7, the US used truck and new US trailer markets. For information about OUTLOOK Seminar 66, click

ACT Research recently completed POWER UP, a look at 7 global regions and more than 20 countries in a review of local regulations, infrastructure, and the impact on the adoption of battery and fuel cell electric commercial vehicles through 2040. This forecast is the first of its kind, a review of the decarbonization of commercial vehicles around the world. POWER UP is now available now at

Additionally, ACT Research published an update to CHARGING FORWARD, a North American-centric battery and fuel cell electric vehicle adoption rate forecast, covering 23 vehicle applications, in Classes 4-8 commercial vehicles, through 2040. CHARGING FORWARD is considered by many industry leaders to be the apex of analysis and economic-based total cost of ownership modeling in the industry. And, it is now available for purchase at

Currently, the team at ACT Research is engaged in a commercial autonomous vehicle multi-client study. Through this work, we will identify adoption rates and forecast autonomous Classes 4-8 vehicles through 2040. If you’re working to understand the economic value proposition or the unit economics of different autonomous models, participation in this study is a must. Learn more at

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Access more information about ACT’s Classes 5-8 reports.

Access information about other ACT Research publications.

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

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

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