Commercial Truck Markets Performing ‘Balancing Act’

According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report, the deterioration of some freight-related metrics that began in March continued through April and into early May.

ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report provides a monthly look at the current production, sales, and general state of the on-road heavy and medium duty commercial vehicle markets in North America.

According to Eric Crawford, ACT Research’s Vice President and Senior Analyst, “In additional to deteriorating freight-related metrics, there appears to be little relief from the three key macro-related themes of 2022: war in Ukraine, supply-chain disruptions, and inflation, which means market participants are increasingly weighing the risk of a recession.” He added, “That said, North American commercial vehicle markets continue to embody a balancing act between demand-driven optimism and supply-side realism: Supply-chain constraints continue to impact the industry’s ability to raise production levels to align with demand. As a result, backlogs remain long and order volumes remain constrained due to ‘within 12 months’ order reporting ground rules. Until build rates find additional traction, orders will largely mirror production levels.”

Regarding commercial vehicle segment production and orders, Crawford commented, “OEMs were able to raise their per-day production, albeit not to planned levels. Class 8 build was 8% below the industry plan, as supply-chain constraints abound, while more predictable Classes 5-7 build was only 1% below expectations. And with still-long backlogs and OEM reticence to extend those backlogs in the face of supply-chain uncertainties, and with spot rates beginning to roll over in March, order activity deteriorated in April, down from its heretofore generally sideways movement.”

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