ACT Research: Too Much Capacity Challenging Heavy Truck Market

According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, key truck transportation metrics continued to give mixed signals in early 2020. Additionally, the report explained that the total medium duty market closed 2019 on a positive note, with all indicators improving sequentially in December, while the US trailer segment closed 2019 on weak net orders, well below seasonal expectations.

The report, which combines proprietary ACT data and analysis of a wide variety of industry sources, paints a comprehensive picture of trends impacting transportation and commercial vehicle markets. This monthly report is designed as a quick look into transportation insights for use by fleet and trucking executives, reviewing top-level considerations such as for-hire indices, freight, heavy and medium duty segments, the US trailer market, used truck sales information, and an overview of the US macro economy.

animation - 2020-03-04T103700.484“The core challenge in the heavy truck market in 2020 is that significant capacity was added in 2019 relative to freight growth. That imbalance is reflected in today’s weak rate environment,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst. He added, “As the economy and freight slowed in 2019, the capacity excess put asset holders on the defensive and gave shippers a big edge in 2020’s rate negotiations.”

Regarding the heavy truck market in 2020, Vieth commented, “It is going to be a capacity rationalization year, that hopefully will go a long way in restoring the supply-demand balance between trucks and freight.” Regarding the medium duty and trailer segments, he explained, “In 2019, the medium duty sector saw moderate gains in production and sales, but weakening demand in late 2019 set a course for an overall decline in 2020. Anecdotal information from the trailer market points to price concessions occurring to incentivize order placements, in hope that those incentives will help to soften anticipated large declines.”

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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