Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicle Industry Faces Uncertain Future, Says IHS Markit

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Registrations of new medium and heavy (GVW 4-8) commercial vehicles in the United States topped 43,100 units in September 2020, virtually unchanged from August, according to the latest data released this week by IHS Markit.

It was also made available to SCMR in this week’s Truck Industry Profile (TIPNet) update. 

Andrej Divis, head of global truck research at IHS Markit, notes that compared to the same month of the prior year, new registrations in September remained down year over year.

Still, the small pace of decline, -7% y/y, was visibly improved from the double-digit pace of decline in preceding months. 
“The result made September the third strongest month in 2020 and further cemented the recovery that started after new-truck demand hit bottom in April 2020,” said Divis,

“In general, the market’s performance in September continued the trends evident since July and pointed to the market finishing the year on a high note, after the lows of the first half,” he added.

IHS Markit expects at least four factors to cause demand to pause or slow in the coming months.  First is the course of the pandemic, with the United States having hit new single-day records for new COVID-19 cases recently. 

Some localities and states are beginning to re-introduce restrictions on economic activity, which if extended and continued, could impact the quantity or timing of trucking freight. 

While the forecast does not explicitly assume a broad second lockdown phase, it does make an allowance for the possibility and err on the conservative side. 

Second, the wave of re-stocking by U.S. businesses has been rapid and has supported demand for trucks into fall, but the fast pace of recovery may also signal an early end to the re-stocking cycle and lessen some of the urgency around new-truck purchases. 

Third, the chances for a new federal stimulus package in the new year appear to be fading, with implications for consumer spending, goods restocking and freight, and support for state and local governments. 

Finally, as the pandemic wanes, perhaps as a vaccine gradually becomes available next year, consumers are likely to re-balance their spending away from goods to services, further easing demand for freight movements, again further reducing the need for new truck buys.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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2020-11-17 13:16:00

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