ACT Research updates Class 8 forecast amid market changes

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Updated Jun 19, 2024
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ACT Research announced Friday it has amended its Class 8 forecast for the remainder of the year. The company says its Class 4-7 forecasts remain largely unchanged.

“Not only did April build not slow in the face of tough freight fundamentals, falling backlogs, and near-record inventories, production of Class 8 vehicles came in well ahead of expectations. Still strong production and an upwards adjustment to our inventory-carrying assumptions, boosts 2024 output while reducing 2025,” says Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst.

Vieth says the uptick in 2024 expectations into worsening conditions is a coin toss. 

“We may miss the timing, but shallower sooner or deeper later appear to the options,” he adds. “Class 8 overcapacity persisting longer in 2024 and weighing more heavily on carrier profitability is not just a risk to Class 8, but also to the trailer forecast. If current market demand reflects EPA 2027 pre-buying, that pre-buying comes at the expense of better freight rates sooner.

[RELATED: FTR sees slow, steady stability in store for 2024]

“While over-the-road carriers are under considerable pressure, we would be remiss not to note that vocational truck markets are in better shape than tractor markets, though even here, inventories are getting extended.”

ACT Research says there are still several pockets of strength in the Class 8 market, but:

  • For-hire carrier profits are at levels not seen since 2010;
  • Feep into the bottom of the cycle, there has been no capacity rationalization to date, only additions;
  • Capacity expansion has left freight rates at recessionary levels, continuing to prolong the downturn; and,
  • While still expanding, the pace of the economy’s recovery is running at about half the 4%-plus GDP rate of second half of 2023.
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