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New Truck Orders Go Everywhere in August 2020

Pardon the pun, but the trucking industry is on a roll. Trucking sales rose for yet another consecutive month.

The Data

Two studies, one from the Freight Transportation Research Associates (FTR) and the other from Americas Commercial Transportation Research Company (ACT), tell ever so slightly different stories. ACT estimates Class 8 truck sales for the month to be 19,500. FTR estimates 20,500 sales of trucks of the same Class.

According to FTR, truck sales increased 3% from July, but ACT estimates it dropped 4%. Regardless of the position of the truck industry the month prior, it is far ahead of the year prior. FTR asserts August sales in 2020 were 90% higher than August 2019, and ACT says 75% higher.

FTR says the reason for the sales being abnormally high by August standards is that fleets are acclimating to the pandemic not going away, and have less uncertainty of the future of the pandemic.

“This is another positive sign for Class 8 trucks — the second consecutive 20,000-unit month and proves that the July total was not a fluke, with a possible trend developing,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president commercial vehicles. “Fleets are more confident, but it still is mostly larger fleets purchasing replacement trucks. Medium-sized and smaller fleets remain cautious about ordering trucks.”

ACT’s data checks out with FTR’s in regards to lighter trucks; Class 5-7 orders are 16% higher than July 2020, but 2% lower than August 2019.

Conclusion

While the number of truck sales for August is not the skyrocket it was in June or July, averaging 20,000 sales in a month is still more than 500 per day, and is an impressive feat that shows the trucking industry is tired of letting the coronavirus push it around.

If Class 8 sales stagnate or drop only slightly for this current month, it will still be on course to pass September 2019. What will be interesting is comparing October 2020 to its 2019 counterpart, as according to FTR, October was the only month in 2019 where new truck sales exceeded 20,000. 2020 has already accomplished this twice, in July and August, but that is arguably in part of pent up demand from reduced sales earlier in the year.

The trucking industry will have to wait until early November to see how October stacks up this year. After all, pardon the pun, but hindsight is 2020.

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