ACT Research: 2020 Was One Quarter Bad for Truck Transportation and the Heavy-Duty Market

ACT Research Co.
3 min readJan 28, 2021

According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, 2020 wasn’t all bad for truck transportation and the heavy-duty market. It wasn’t even half bad. It was one quarter bad.

The report, which combines proprietary ACT data and analysis from a wide variety of sources, paints a comprehensive picture of trends impacting transportation and commercial vehicle markets. This monthly report is designed as a quick look at transportation insights for use by fleet and trucking executives, reviewing top-level considerations such as for-hire indices, freight, heavy and medium duty segments, the US trailer market, used truck sales information, and an overview of the US macro economy.

“The shock and magnitude of the second quarter economic decline was without precedent in post-World War II history, forcing a reach to the Great Depression for parallels,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst. He explained, “But the remarkable rebound of the economy and in truck freight began in the summer and gained momentum into autumn. Even during the worst of the trough in April and May, we forecast a second half rebound.”

Vieth continued, “The direction of the second half was correctly called. But the slope of the recovery’s path, and the speed and strength of the freight rebound (and the associated skyrocketing of freight rates), caught us off guard.” He added, “The lessons we learned from underestimating the market snapback are important in the formation of our current view.” Vieth concluded, “Some of the impacting factors in the second half of 2020 included the capacity squeeze, the goods-for-services substitution, expanded migration to
e-commerce, low fuel prices, and a housing boom, just to name a few.”

ACT Research is recognized as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies. ACT Research is a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel. ACT Research executives have received peer recognition, including election to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics, appointment as Consulting Economist to the National Private Truck Council, and the Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Economic Indicators’ Most Accurate Economic Forecast over a four-year period. ACT Research senior staff members have earned accolades including Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium Best Overall Forecast, Wall Street Journal Top Economic Outlook, and USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters. More information can be found at

ACT’s 64th Seminar is scheduled for February 23–25, 2021. Focused on the continuous evolution and advancement of power and energy changes in the transportation and commercial vehicle markets, OUTLOOK Seminar 64 will feature key industry leaders such as Ryan Reed of Wabash National, John Bennett from Meritor, Lance Riegel of Marvin Johnson, and Dominick Beckman from Hino Motors. Look for more details on this event over the coming months and save the date for February’s event. Click here for seminar information.

Click here for information about ACT’s Transportation Digest.

For more information about additional ACT’s Transportation Publications and Services, click here.



ACT Research Co.

ACT Research is the leader in commercial vehicle industry data, market analysis, and forecasting services for North America.