During a Work Truck Show 2021 virtual presentation, Andrej Divis, director, medium & heavy commercial vehicle research for IHS Markit, discussed some current work truck market trends and forecasts.
Overall, 2020 was an unusual year. The Class 4-8 market collapsed by one-fifth, and both medium and heavy duty lost market share volume. However, the bulk of the contraction was borne by Class 8. Sales fell more than 26% for heavy duty, while medium duty fell by comparatively less (10%).
While 2019 was the year of Class 6, 2020 was the year of Class 5. Class 5 rose to nearly 20%, was the only class to gain share in 2020, and increased in volume significantly. This was largely due to the boom in ecommerce caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Class 7 was the worst performer in 2020, and registered the lowest volume it’s seen in the last 10 years. It was also the lowest share in Class 4-8 overall.
In Class 4-6, Ford kept its position as number one brand and increased its sales over last year. Chevrolet also had a sharp increase over 2019, likely due to its commitment to get back into medium duty commercial business in a big way with offerings beyond its van cutaways by bringing to market products produced jointly with its partners at Isuzu and Navstar. There were also notable increases registered by International as well due to efforts in product renewal taking place over the last few years.
Class 1-3 overall fell by about 15% due to pandemic stay at home orders. Vans declined by 27% year over year. Pickups declined by just 7%. However, Class 3 pickups were the big star in 2020. Various reasons include affordability, healthier development in the sectors some of these trucks might be used (notably in construction), and increases in purchases of towables.
In the fuel category, there was an ongoing decline in the market share of diesel. Traditionally over 80%, it dipped under that mark in 2020. Gasoline increased to almost 20% of market share, and CNG remains a niche fuel. Diesel still remains dominant in Class 5- 8. Cummins remains the number one engine manufacturer for diesel.
The average age of a Class 4-8 truck fleet in 2020 was 13.8 years, broken down to the following:
- Class 4: 14 years
- Class 5: 10 years
- Class 6:14 years
- Class 7: 14 years
- Class 8: 12 years
Overall, 2020 was a weak year for medium duty, but a recovery is expected in 2021. Classes 4 and 5 didn’t do that badly, so there won’t be as big of an increase. Classes 6-7 are predicted to share larger percentage gains in 2021.