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Carriers still slow to buynew equipment: TCP survey

Results from Transport Capital Partners’ (TCP) recent Business Expectations Survey of truckload carriers in the United States show continuing caution in buying new equipment as replacement cycles continue to stretch out.

TCP uses the quarterly survey to collect insights and opinions of executives nationwide in order to report on the current state of the truckload industry and future expectations.

“TCP’s survey shows about half of carriers adding capacity, primarily when the current fleet is fully utilized and rates increase sufficiently,” said Richard Mikes, a managing partner for TCP. “But one in eight (primarily smaller carriers) are already starting to add capacity now with the impending supply demand equilibrium being positive.”

“The survey shows that larger carriers will wait until their current fleet is fully utilized and rates increase sufficiently,” said Lana Batts, a managing partner for TCP. “Increased rates will definitely be needed before most carriers invest in newer, more costly equipment.”

“About half of carriers are considering extending their trade cycles 12 months or more,” Mikes said. “This reflects the view of many carriers that truck quality has been rising, and shorter hauls have made this option more attractive as new truck prices continue to rise.”

The survey found that 56% of respondents expect to grow by adding new capacity from company-owned equipment rather than independent contractors. Both Batts and Mikes said it was surprising that 29% of carriers planning to add capacity indicate they would do so with independent contractors, given that their numbers have been dropping for some time because of higher fuel prices, tight credit markets, and the increasing price of new 2010-compliant tractors.

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