ACT Research: Strong Economic Activity and Capacity Constraints Impacting CV Markets

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, data through the first two weeks of June suggest that North America is at or very near the top of the freight rate expansion, which has been setting new highs on an almost monthly basis since last August. While at or near the peak in terms of freight rates, the economic outlook is optimistic in anticipation of an extended runway of strong activity.

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 6.17.2021-1“As has been the case since the start of the year, supply-chain constraints, rather than fleet/consumer demand, will be the primary determinants of how many vehicles are produced this year,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “While the list remains long, build expectations suggest that work-throughs are coming into place. For example, the semiconductor situation is not expected to be fully rectified by the end of 2021, but reports suggest improvement from here, as chip supplies are reallocated to higher-value goods producers. And while spot Midwest steel prices posted a new record high in early June, they have leveled off since, which is perhaps an early indication that supply is finally catching demand.”

By commercial vehicle segment, Vieth commented, “May’s Class 8 data showed no real surprises. Orders aligned with preliminary reporting, build and backlogs were close to expectations, cancellations continued to border on nonexistent, and inventories and sales were consistent with recent levels. Additionally, broad-based economic strength continues to build the best medium-duty market since ACT began reporting data. In May, 3-, 6- and 12-month order metrics (3 and 6 seasonally adjusted) all rose to best-ever levels, eclipsing the prebuy-fueled volumes of 2006.”

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

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. 

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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