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ATD Truck Beat: Commercial Truck Sales Up Across Segments



In the first half of the year, commercial truck sales totaled 231,813 units—up 28.5% from the COVID-19- impacted first-half 2020. Medium-duty truck sales topped 120,000 units, and heavy-duty truck sales exceeded 111,000, increasing 23% and 35.1%, respectively. Sales rose because of solid freight demand, as many sectors of the economy reopened and more consumers returned to their normal routines. In June 2021, Class 8 sales were 19,840 units, the second-highest monthly total this year and just over baseline replacement demand of around 19,000 units a month.

We believe that sales in second-quarter 2021 were hampered by the lingering supply chain issues that have affected commercial truck production for months. According to ACT Research, orders for Class 8 trucks have been solid, topping 25,000 units in June 2021. And total Class 8 truck orders in first-half 2021 were over 208,000—the third-highest total on record for the first half of a year. Nearly all order slots for 2021 have been filled, and orders should increase later this year as OEMs open their order books for 2022. As with the light-vehicle market, shortages of new-truck inventory have led freight purchasers looking to capitalize on strong freight demand and high freight rates to turn to the used market. Through the first five months of 2021, according to J.D. Power, pricing of four- to six-year-old Class 8 trucks at auction was up 80% from the same period in 2020. Inventory returning to market has been limited, as many freight companies are holding on to their trucks longer than normal in this hot market.

Because of the reopening and expanding U.S. economy, we expect continued strength in the commercial truck market for the rest of the year and into 2022. Demand for new-truck inventory is out there, but sales will likely continue to be somewhat limited by supply chain issues. For the whole year we see medium-duty truck sales of around 240,000 units and heavy-duty truck sales of some 260,000.

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