Commercial Truck Market Remains "Robust": NTEA

Jan. 21, 2020

Nearly half of respondents to a recent survey of commercial vehicle managers expect to expand their fleets in 2020. This meshes with data from Construction Equipment’s Annual Report & Forecast, in which managers of construction equipment fleets reported similar intentions.

The Fleet Purchasing Outlook, published by the NTEA, indicates “anticipated purchasing intent,” according to the association. It is available free for members, and can be downloaded for $199 by nonmembers.

“The market demand for commercial vehicles remains robust,” said Steve Carey, NTEA president/CEO, in a prepared statement. “While there are some market constraints that continue, such as tight labor and equipment availability, our 2020 Fleet Purchasing outlook confirms demand for fleet vehicles continues to demonstrate purchasing resilience.”

In addition to the fleet-expansion number, the report also indicates that one in three respondents intend to acquire more trucks this year than in 2019. The average age of trucks exceeds the normal replacement cycle for most fleets, with 38 percent of respondents saying average truck age does not exceed normal replacement cycle.

About 60 percent of respondents are taking into account fuel usage and economy when specifying new trucks, which is a 16-point climb over 2018 results.

The survey queries a wide variety of fleet professionals in mid- to high-level management, with authority to make decisions on truck acquisition and vehicle specification. A broad range of fleet sizes, vehicle weight classes, and vocational truck applications is represented as participants span the U.S. and Canada. The report includes current survey results and also combines them with data from previous studies for year-to-year comparisons for benchmarking purposes and insight into the fleet perspective.

In the full report, NTEA includes average truck age and replacement cycles, macro-level buying tendencies, predicted change in fleet size, main factors driving purchase behavior, interest in advanced truck technologies and alternative fuels, approach to safety and automation, and importance of financial purchasing incentives.

“Challenging” economic factors indicated by the results include a tight labor market, capacity utilization limits, a decline in the construction sector, tariffs, and political uncertainty in the U.S. and around the world.

Similar findings were reported in the Annual Report & Forecast, although respondents remain optimistic for 2020:

“Expectations for 2020 do not flag. Respondents expect it to be 'very good.' This runs counter to the ongoing global trade fights, the fact that it is an election year—an increasingly divisive one—and data indicating a mixed bag on construction spending.”

On the bright side, there’s relatively high consumer confidence, good credit availability, manageable inflation, historically low interest rates, and increased state and local government spending. Together, these forces translate into continued opportunity, the report suggests.

The report covers fleet engaged in construction, delivery/cartage, government/municipal, and utility/telecom and covers the following regions: Midwest (U.S.), Northeast (U.S.), South (U.S.), West (U.S.), nationwide (U.S.), Canada, and North America.

Source: NTEA