2007 Was a Brutal Year for Big Truck Sales
By Chris Haak
New government emission standards in effect for diesel engines beginning in 2007 made 2006 a decent year for medium- and heavy-duty (class 4-8) truck sales as trucking companies rushed to beat the price increases, which added $7,000 to $12,000 to the price of a new truck purchased in 2007. As a result, 2006 large truck sales were up 8.4% over 2005’s levels. Basically, trucking companies pushed their purchasing plans forward to beat the price increases.
The predictable result for 2007 was an absolutely brutal year for every heavy truck manufacturer. Overall, the segment was down a whopping 31.4%. Ford was the only brand that posted “only” a single digit sales loss (down 6.4%). The shakeup also allowed Ford to leap from #3 to #1 in medium- and heavy-duty truck sales. In 2006, the top three were:
For 2007, Ford jumped to the top of the list:
Worst hit were the largest trucks, the Class 8 tractors, which fell 46.8%. Also, this is likely the reason that Ford jumped in front, as Ford does not sell Class 8 trucks and more than half of its sales were Class 4 trucks. In contrast, Freightliner’s Class 8 sales made up 49% of its total sales, which is why their overall large truck sales results took more of a beating.
It will be interesting to see how results for 2008 compare with 2007’s depressed results. I could foresee a slight gain, with larger sales increases coming in later years as trucking companies are forced to replace their fleets and pay for the additional emission controls.
Other than a possible recession slowing the economy, another possible ongoing hindrance to new large truck sales could be the rebuilding programs that some truck manufacturers offer. Manufacturers will rebuild a tired, old truck – keeping some key components such as the frame – so that it’s still technically an old truck and not subject to the more strict emission regulations. In other words, we may be seeing more “re-tread trucks” to go along with their “re-tread” tires in coming years.
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