Orders of classes 5 to 7 vehicles declined 1.1% in 2016 after a strong December finish and have outpaced heavy-duty truck orders in part due to pent-up demand from government fleet purchasers, according to ACT Research.
In 2016, customers ordered 228,500 units, which was a "virtual carbon copy" of 2015, said Kenny Vieth, ACT's president and senior analyst. December marked the second strongest month of the year and an eight-month high-water mark with 20,600 orders. The month is historically the second strongest order month of the year.
Meanwhile, classes 8 truck orders declined 24% to 21,400 in December but the month broke a string of year-over-year monthly declines that reached 22 months.
"From our perspective, demand in the medium-duty space is always less volatile than in the heavy-duty space," said Steve Tam, ACT's vice president. "The medium-duty fleet was still satisfying pent-up demand in 2016, particularly in the government/municipal segment, as their revenue stream and subsequent spending activity lags that of the broader economy."
Demand for medium-duty trucks has also been driven by a strong construction and housing industry.
"Housing activity (permits, starts, and sales) along with new light auto and truck production are two excellent economic indicators for the medium-duty commercial vehicle market," Tam said. "While they tend to be more concurrent in nature, similar growth stories substantiate 2016s performance and portend more of the same in 2017."
Originally posted on Trucking Info