ACT Research: Used Class 8 sales volumes, prices rise; much to like about CV demand

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Updated Apr 29, 2021
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Used Class 8 volumes grew for all time periods, up 28 percent sequentially, 25 percent higher year over year, and 13 percent more on a year-to-date basis, according to the recent release of the State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks, published by ACT Research,

Average prices were 6 percent higher compared to February and 20 percent more expensive than in March of 2020, while average miles dropped 2 percent month over month and year over year. Average age was flat for all three time periods, ACT reports.

“March used Class 8 same dealer sales volumes recovered strongly from unseasonably bad winter weather in February,” says ACT Vice President Steve Tam. “Part of the gain may be seasonal, as March typically enjoys about a 13 percent seasonal bump from February. However, it appears that buyers continue to drain the supply of used truck inventory.”

Looking at the different sales channels for used Class 8 vehicles, Tam says, “Channel results were oddly mixed, with auctions contracting across the board and retail sales surging for all time period comparisons. Wholesale transactions improved both month over month and year over year, but still lag on a year-to-date basis. It appears as though dealers may be getting more comfortable with having to pay more for trades as they compete for scarce units. Fortunately, their investments are not going unrewarded.”

The report from ACT provides data on the average selling price, miles and age based on a sample of industry data. In addition, the report provides the average selling price for top-selling Class 8 models for each of the major truck OEMs

In the release of its Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT reports there is much to like about the current state of the U.S. economy, as well as from both freight and commercial vehicle demand perspectives.

“From an economic standpoint, GDP growth is strong, consumers continue to spend at a relatively higher rate on goods, and other freight-intensive sectors remain the primary drivers of economic activity,” says ACT President and Senior Analyst Kenny Vieth. “This leads to the view we have from our freight-perspective glasses: Spot freight rates continue to post new record levels and are currently inverted above contract rates, a clear signal that contract rates will continue to rise. Additionally, low business inventories and backed-up ports on both coasts have created a backlog of freight, providing excellent forward visibility of ongoing strong demand for freight services.” 

Vieth elaborated about how these two considerations impact commercial vehicle demand.

“Combining record levels of freight demand with the constrained ability to bring supply to bear, carrier profitability is projected to rise to record levels in the coming quarters and, as we’ve often opined, fleets buy or at least order, equipment when they are making money,” Veith says.

“Orders for medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty tractors and trailers remain elevated and, with demand hot and production constrained, backlogs are extended beyond traditional ranges,” he says.

The report, which combines ACT’s proprietary data analysis from a wide variety of industry sources, offers a comprehensive picture of trends impacting transportation and commercial vehicle markets.        

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