Has 2024 started as you expected?

Back in January when we posted our industry status report on the dealer, aftermarket and supplier channels, the general theme across our articles was 2024 would be a stable but uninspiring year.

In conjunction with that report, we also put a poll question up on the website, asking readers what they were expecting for truck sales this year. We had already surveyed our audience once, last fall, but that was before 2023 books were closed. We thought asking one more time was worthwhile. After all, truck sales more than any other factor impact dealer business decisions, and often have a cascading effect into the aftermarket.

I’m happy to report responses to our poll both tracked in line with our fall survey responses, and also leaned more optimistic than pessimistic.

Among the 364 responses, 23% predicted truck sales this year will be similar to 2023, with another 21% expecting the industry to be up 1-5% year over year. Beyond there, another 14% of responders are expecting sales up 6-10% from 2023 and 10% are expecting this year to be at least 11% better than the last.

That’s a combined 65% of responders expecting equal or better sales totals in 2024. Those are good numbers for any industry but especially the truck world, where 2023 deliveries were the best in four years.

Admittedly, using a catch-all term like sales could have skewed responses up slightly. Truck orders have been remarkably robust in the first two months of the year, which both starts this year from a position of strength against 2023 comparisons while also increasing the likelihood that delivery levels remain high well into the fall.

But as we know, an order does not ensure a delivery, and cancellations (though more of a problem with trailers than trucks) have been on the rise.

Still, there seems to be increasing optimism within our industry that 2024 might be capable of aiming a little higher than previously thought, and assessments of 2025 and 2026 are mostly bullish.

[Download our state of the industry survey results!]

If your business is one of many that is off to a better than expected start this year, how are you managing it? Have you revised your projections upward? Are you banking these successes but still fearful of a dip later in the year? Conversely, if you expected a down year and/or your company has started slow, what’s the path forward from here?

Our fourth quarter 2023 TPS MarketPulse survey indicated market confidence has fallen from 2022 peaks but very few have started cutting workforce or expansion plans. I hope that’s still the case.  

I’m no economist — nor have I ever played one on TV — but I’ve heard enough smart people talk over the last three months to think the worm in our industry is about to turn. Spot rates have stabilized (with some segments improving), truck orders are still strong and buyers who have been out of the market in recent years are returning.

Here’s to hoping your business has started the year off right, or is close to a turnaround.

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