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December 2020: New Truck Sales for Year End High

This will probably be the last (or second to last, depending on how well trailer sales went for December) time we say it, but its repetition does not make it any less true. The coronavirus pandemic did not reduce demand for trucking assets and services, it merely moved it to a different time. If further evidence is needed to support this statement: look at new truck purchases for the month of December and the year 2020 as a whole.

The Numbers

Freight Transportation Research Associates (FTR) has released two numbers: their estimation for new Class 8 truck sales in December (preliminary), and the estimated sum of sales for 2020. Conventional wisdom might dictate that sales for 2020 would be a fraction of the year prior.

For December, FTR believes new purchases to approximate 52,100 units. This is only 700 fewer than November, 169% larger than sales in December 2019, and the fourth-highest month of sales since FTR started compiling the data.

FTR pegs the 2020 total at around 283,000 units. This is 104,000 more sales than in 2019, which is a 58% increase. The numbers are even more shocking when considering the dog days of the COVID-19 pandemic: April 2020 had a paltry 5,000 units sold at the very most.

Don Ake, Vice President of Commercial Vehicles for FTR and the guru for trucking sales numbers, says he sees no reason why the trucking industry cannot continue its streak for tremendous months in 2021.

“As the economy continues to improve, fleets are showing increasing confidence about business conditions in 2021,” he said. “Profits are more than sufficient to replace used trucks and freight growth is stimulating expansion demand. Put those dynamics together and the industry is headed toward a robust year.”

Conclusion

The articles this year regarding trucking sales have shown phenomenal sales for new Class 8 trucks.

With the holiday season behind us, January truck sales will be very interesting to see. Will this hot streak be able to overcome the first month of what is commonly called the slow season for trucking? Whatever the case, topping 50,000 sales for the third month in a row is a tall order.

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