The commercial vehicle market in 2016 was a tug of war between gaining medium-duty and declining heavy-duty sales, according to analysis from IHS Markit. In 2017, however, medium-duty sales may be high enough to stabilize the commercial vehicle market. 

Class 3-7 medium-duty registrations in 2016 increased compared to the previous year, contrasting with the Class 8 market which declined throughout the year. This led to a decline overall in the commercial vehicle market last year. 

IHS expects the commercial vehicle market to stabilize in 2017, due primarily to gains in the medium-duty segment. With the medium-duty market set to grow again in 2017, gains in the Class 4-7 range could increase enough to offset expected softness in the heavy-duty end.

Combined Class 4-8 commercial truck sales are projected to settle in the range of 400,000 units for the year, virtually flat from 2016.

“The market for commercial vehicles in GVWs 3-8 has performed in line with IHS Markit expectations during the 2016 calendar year,” said Gary Meteer, director, commercial vehicle solutions for IHS Markit. “The decline in GVW 8 new registrations by large (501+) fleets was first identified during the middle of the 2015 calendar year and the subsequent decline continued throughout the 2016 calendar year.”

A large factor in the sales decline was that new commercial vehicle registrations were down among large fleets operating more than 501 vehicles. These large fleets registered 8.7% fewer new vehicles over an 11-month period in 2016 compared to the year before.

“These large fleets accounted for less than 40% of new GVW 8 registrations prior to the 2008 calendar year and reached a peak of over 50% during the 2011 calendar year,” said Meteer. “The recovery in GVW 8 new registrations will need renewed activity by these large fleets if the annual volume is to remain in the 225,000-250,000 unit range annually.”

Ford was the top-selling brand in the commercial vehicle market last year, with new registrations up 10% year-over-year as a result of strong performances in the Class 3-5 segments.

In the Class 8 market, Freightliner remained the segment leader with a 34.4% share, followed by Kenworth with a 14.9% share and Peterbilt with a 13.9% share, according to IHS Markit.

Regionally, sales were better in the West and Northeast U.S. last year, contrasting with declining sales in the South and Central regions of the country.

Originally posted on Trucking Info