What engine brand has the most units on the highway?

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Updated Jul 3, 2024
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Back in February, we used data from Trucks, Parts, Service sister company Price Digests to visualize the Freightliner Cascadia’s volume dominance in the used truck market.

The Cascadia isn’t the highest-priced truck model in the market — that’s a harder question to answer — but on a per unit basis, no truck sees more sales action.

Expectedly, the Cascadia also is the most commonly registered truck for carriers running equipment that is at least eight years old, reports another TPS sister company, RigDig Business Intelligence (RDBI).

But while Daimler’s market lead in truck sales is substantial, Cummins remains North America’s premier engine maker. Additionally, among fleets operating older equipment (i.e., carriers most likely to be active in the used truck space), Cummins’ market edge is even wider.

[RELATED: How data can boost your used truck turn rate]

Recognizing Cummins’ edge in trucking’s engine space, and the diversity of competition behind them, can help used equipment dealers better understand customer operational preferences and how to move trucks more effectively.

Among the nearly 1.2 million verified medium- and heavy-duty vehicles owned by carriers with an equipment average age of at least eight years old, 25.1% are Freightliners, per RDBI. The combined size of Peterbilt (14.6%) and Kenworth (13.3%) behind Freightliner in that group shows Paccar’s long-term popularity in used equipment space. Paccar trucks garner interest and can fetch great prices for a long time.

But neither OEM has been able to replicate their chassis market success under the hood. On the topic of engines, Cummins stands alone.

The Indiana engine maker is found in more than 326,000 of the aforementioned nearly 1.2 million confirmed vehicles in RDBI’s used truck specific data set, accounting for 27.2% marketshare and a nearly 100,000-unit edge over Detroit Diesel (18.9%).

Perhaps even more impressive among RDBI’s cohort of older but active trucks is how many Caterpillar engines remain in circulation. Caterpillar bowed out of the Class 8 engine space nearly 15 years ago, before the introduction of complex aftertreatment technologies. But due to their reputation and proliferation in advance of their exit and a still robust service network, there are still more than 161,000 Cat engines in operation.

That’s 100,000 more than Paccar, which despite nearly 28% marketshare in RDBI’s older vehicle cohort has an engine marketshare of just 5.1%.

Behind Paccar the competition is even stiffer. RDBI’s data set shows Mack engines trail Paccar by less than 1,000 units, and Navistar is 170 behind Mack. Volvo comes next, within 2,000 units of Navistar. Ford, General Motors and Isuzu round out RDBI’s data set.

Cummins’ engine market dominance also mirrors the Cascadia’s near ubiquitous position atop state sales lists.

[RELATED: Which truck brands are moving the most units in Canada?]

Among the 10 states with the most registered vehicles in RDBI’s data set (Texas, California, Florida, New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington), Cummins is universally the top engine brand. Only in North Carolina (571 behind) and Florida (739) was Detroit Diesel within 1,000 units.

Caterpillar was well represented here too as the second most common engine in New York and Washington — the only states in the top 10 that did not go Cummins, Detroit Diesel in their top two spots. 

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