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Trailer Body Builder | Upward, Onward for Medium Duty

11.14.17 | Trailer Body Builder

North American production of medium-duty vehicles is expected to continue its slow, steady climb from the low point of 2010, according to FTR COO Jonathan Starks.

In his presentation, “Medium-Duty Equipment Outlook: The FTR Perspective,” Starks said his forecast for the Class 4-7 market is 209,300 this year, 212,300 in 2018, and 216,800 in 2019. That breaks down to 131,200 in Class 6-7 and 78,100 in Class 4-5 this year, 132,800 and 79,500 in 2018, and 136,600 and 80,200 in 2019.

This comes on the heels of 197,800 in 2016.

“In 2017, we’re going to be well above last year - 12,000 units higher,” he said. “It’s a solid, stable, slow-growth environment. There is some positive potential building up in 2018 and 2019. But again, it’s not transformational. It’s incremental. We might add 10,000 or 15,000 units. Not 30,000 or 40,000 units.

“We’ve been predicting this very stable marketplace, this slow-growth environment, for some time now. Back in 2014, we predicted 184,000 for 2015, 193,000 for 2016, and 201,000 for 2017, and the actual numbers are 188,100, 197,800 and an estimated 209,300.”

Starks said medium-duty inventories have been growing pretty steadily, going from 50,000 units at the end of 2015 to 62,000 midway through this year.

“They’re actually pretty high,” he said. “If you look at the inventory-to-sales ratio, it’s been a pretty stable environment. There’s not a lot of pressure up or down.

“Medium-duty production is a very volatile number from month to month. We had a pretty stable recovery in production for several years. Last year, we had a market that surged at the beginning of the year and had some payback in the latter half of the year, so it ended up being pretty flat. We had a recovery in the first part of this year. We’ll see that trend line moving up the rest of the year. From a production standpoint, we seem to be going up.”

Class 4-5 retail sales are up 109% from the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2017 and 13% from July 2016 to July 2017.

“If you look back at 2010 versus where we are now, we more than doubled our monthly output in sales,” he said. “So the market has grown pretty significantly.”

Class 4-5 production is up 315% from the first half of 2010 to the first half of 2017 and 40% from June 2016 to June 2017.


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