ACT Research: Freight Markets Remain Soft Amid Private Fleet Expansion

ACT Research Co.
2 min readSep 21, 2023

Though significant progress has been made in rebalancing, we think it’s unlikely that industry capacity will broadly tighten until pressure from capacity growth eases, which seems unlikely for the next few months, according to the latest release of the Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume OUTLOOK report.

“We’ve created a proxy for private fleet activity that suggests mid-single-digit growth in freight volumes, helping to explain the difference between the accelerating US economy and declining for-hire volumes,” shared Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s Vice President and Senior Analyst. “Private fleet growth is evident as Class 8 tractor retail sales are on pace to set a record this year, yet for-hire fleets are by and large demonstrating capital discipline.”

“Though the freight market is still near the bottom of the cycle, in our view, new truck orders in the next few months will be pivotal to setting the market tone for 2024,” he continued. “The capacity contraction in the for-hire sector is beginning to coil the proverbial spring for better market conditions, but this improving outlook could be spoiled if fleet expansion continues ahead of industry need.”

“We expect industry financial trends to dictate greater capital discipline next year, but further overexpansion is possible as fleets plan for significant emissions regulations looming in the future,” Denoyer concluded.

ACT Research: Freight Forecast

The monthly 58-page ACT Freight Forecast report provides analysis and forecasts for a broad range of U.S. freight measures, including the Cass Freight Index, Cass Truckload Linehaul Index, and DAT spot and contract rates by trailer type. The service provides monthly, quarterly, and annual predictions for the TL, LTL, and intermodal markets over a two- to three-year time horizon, including capacity, volumes, and rates. The Freight Forecast provides unmatched detail on the freight rate outlook, helping companies across the supply chain plan with greater visibility and less uncertainty.

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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ACT Research Co.

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