US retail sales of Class 8 trucks reached a record 28,200 units in September, according to preliminary estimates from FTR.
That number is 4% higher than the previous record set in December 2006, FTR said.
Sales were up 20% month-over-month and year-over-year in September, and all OEMs reported robust activity for the month, the industry forecaster maintained.
“September should be considered a fluke as fleets delayed taking some deliveries in the summer and the sales all closed in September,” said Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “Still, it was a great sales month for Class 8 trucks. It will be a much tighter market going forward as fleet expansion slows due to the weaker freight environment.
“The market is slipping back to replacement level, but fleets are still profitable, so this should stabilize sales.”
Sales were strong and steady for the previous five months, and September was expected to be similar, FTR asserted. The record activity was a surprise, even more so with fewer sales days in the month. Despite slowing freight growth, some fleets are still expanding and need more trucks. Sales were also boosted by fleets taking delivery of some large orders that had been sitting on OEM lots during the summer.
In addition, carriers have cash to spend to replace older units, FTR said. Reports indicate that some OEMs are offering discounts to reduce record-high inventories, so now might be the ideal time to trade trucks in.
Sales are expected to pull back considerably in October and November as the industry adjusts to the softer freight environment.
FTR expects sales volume to drop more than 20% in 2020.