This story appears in the March 17 print edition of Transport Topics.
U.S. retail heavy-duty truck sales rose 11.2% to 13,949 units in February, the highest percentage gain in four months, Wards Auto.com reported.
Sales have risen a cumulative 9% in the past three months — almost 4,000 units above the comparable three-month period a year earlier.
The total for last month was the second-highest for February since 2007. It followed a 7.5% year-over-year gain in January and was the highest since sales rose 15.6% in October. It also marked the first month since October in which all original equipment manufacturers reported year-over-year increases.
“That’s a pretty decent number for February,” said Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research Co. in Columbus, Ind. “We typically don’t see a lot of movement from January to February.”
ACT expects sales “will be accelerating later in the year,” and the group is holding to its forecast of a 13% gain for 2014 over last year, Tam told Transport Topics.
Like sales, new truck orders also have been increasing. Orders climbed about 30% in February and more than 50% in January, ACT reported.
While total sales were the lowest since last March, it was the sixth straight year-over-year increase. Sales had declined year-over-year 12 straight months before the recent turnaround.
Ward’s said Navistar International Corp.’s sales rose 9.5% in February to 2,026, although its International brand fell to No. 3 in overall market share, with 14.5%, from 18.2% in January.
“Our sales efforts are beginning to pay off as evidenced by our January and February performance, and this gives us confidence that we are gaining momentum,” Jack Allen, Navistar’s chief operating officer, told TT.
Allen said the company’s full-year forecast “largely remains unchanged. We are forecasting a combined Class 8 industry of 220,000 to 230,000 retail sales. Although the market seems poised for more, the next few months will tell.”
Freightliner Trucks posted the highest overall total, rising slightly year-over-year to 5,439 units, reversing a year-over-year drop in January.
Freightliner, part of Daimler Trucks North America, held the top spot in market share at 39%. A company spokesman said that DTNA would comment on its sales outlook at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
Peterbilt Motors Co. reported the biggest monthly increase, up 26.6% to 2,073 units. The OEM rose to No. 2 in market share with 14.9%, up from No. 3 in January.
Kenworth Truck Co., which along with Peterbilt is part of Paccar Inc., sold 1,716 trucks in the month, up 19% from a year ago.
Combined, Paccar accounted for 27.2% of heavy-duty market share. That was second among corporate OEMs behind DTNA, which posted a 41.2% market share, including about 300 Western Star units.
Paccar officials with Kenworth and Peterbilt declined to comment last week.
Volvo Group units Volvo Trucks and Mack Trucks posted gains of 16.9% and 14.7%, to 1,480 and 896 trucks, respectively.
Volvo Trucks accounted for 10.6% market share, equaling its January total, and Mack’s slipped sequentially to 6.4%. The two combined for 17% market share, putting Volvo Group third behind DTNA and Paccar.
Volvo and Mack declined to comment on the sales figures last week.