ACT Research: Best Recession Ever for Class 8 Trucking

ACT Research Co.
4 min readFeb 13, 2023

In spite of what seems to be a stumbling freight picture, higher financing costs, and increasingly restrictive credit availability, ACT continues to see healthy sales and build trends for Class 8 into 2023. Pent-up vehicle demand and still elevated carrier profits in early 2023 continue to provide a supportive environment for new equipment, ACT’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK reported.

Total Class 8: NA Backlog & BL/BU Ratio

The N.A. CV OUTLOOK reports on the trucking industry forecast, providing a status of commercial vehicle demand, tactical and strategic market analysis and forecasts ranging out five years. The report’s objective is to give OEMs, suppliers, investors, and other interested market participants the information they need to make informed decisions in what is traditionally a deeply cyclical market. The report provides a complete overview of the North American markets, touching on relevant demand drivers starting with forward-looking activity metrics, orders and backlogs. Information included in this report covers build and retail sales forecasts and current market conditions for medium- and heavy-duty trucks/tractors, and trailers, North American macroeconomics by country, freight and carrier market performance, used equipment valuation trends, and regulatory environment analysis and impacts.

According to Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst, “We continue to expect a recession in the first half of this year leading to an incremental year-over-year decline in 2023 Class 8 build from 2022 as freight market weakness increasingly weighs on demand into the year’s second half.” He added, “While the Fed may continue raising interest rates in 25-basis point increments longer into 2023 than currently envisioned, we do not believe the pace of rate hikes will be aggressive enough to sharply impact commercial vehicle market performance.”

“The industry enters 2023 with a fair amount of visibility, thanks to a robust backlog,” Vieth concluded. “While down year-over-year, the December-ending Class 8 backlog represents the fourth highest year-end backlog on record. With this as context, our call for strong production in 2023 is hardly a stretch. That said, we do expect softening, as lower freight volumes and rates, higher costs, improved equipment availability, and the gradual exhausting of pent-up demand begin to exert downward demand pressure.”

ACT Research: North America Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK

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 www.actresearch.net.

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Click below to access:

More information about ACT’s NA Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK.

Details about other ACT Research products and services.

January’s NA Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK press release.

ACT’s In the News page.

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ACT Research Co.

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