Used truck volumes see larger than anticipated slip

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Updated Mar 30, 2023
Used truck volumes for February 2023

Retail used truck volumes (same dealer sales) slipped by 8% in February after two strong months, ACT Research announced Wednesday.

Average mileage was unchanged for the month; price and age fell by 4 and 2% respectively. Average price, age and volume also were down year over year.

ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam says Class 8 retail truck sales typically see a moderate decrease of around 4% in February, so the larger dip "was directionally consistent with seasonality, though a bit steeper than expected. It is no secret that ‘normal’ has been anything but in this cycle, so given the relatively small variance, it is tough to get too excited."

Tam adds historical data indicates March would see volumes rise substantially, as high as 15-20%, but that is unlikely this year.

"While inventory has ticked up and new truck activity could support that much of an increase in used truck sales, the economy and freight are still on the soft side. The challenge is figuring out how much pent-up demand exists in the used truck market," he says.

"Concerns remain regarding how owner-operators and small fleets will fair in 2023, particularly as freight rates fall and operating costs rise. While the economy may avoid a recession, inflation remains a very real concern. And all of this says nothing about what fleets’ equity position in their equipment looks like. Those that bought at the top of the market are likely underwater or headed there. With that in mind, we expect, the market to fall as much as 10%," he says.

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