Q1 2011 Fleet Sentiment Report Buying Index Surges to New Highs

February 01, 2011

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The quarterly Fleet Sentiment Report Buying Index as reported by CK Commercial Vehicle Research rose to a new high of 102.3 for the first quarter of 2011.

The FSR Buying Index (Q1 2008 = 100) is a simple measure of planned buying behavior of for-hire, private and government fleets responding to CKCVR's Fleet Sentiment quarterly questionnaire.

In January, 58 percent indicated they were planning to place orders for power equipment during the next three months, with 42 percent planning to place trailer orders during the same period. Average planned order size, as a percentage of current equipment inventories, is 11.6 percent for power units and 10.4 percent for trailers. The Fleet Sentiment Report finds that input received during January from their fleet advisors support a good beginning to 2011 for new equipment demand.

Capacity Questions

The survey includes several findings pointing to tightening capacity. For-hire and private fleets are planning purchases, although government fleets are not. Tight capacity at for-hire fleets is creating added demand for private fleets to buy equipment: "Business has not slowed
down and we will need to haul more of our own product due to a shortage of dry bulk capacity," noted one fleet manager responding to the survey. A leasing company in the group also is planning purchases again this quarter - both power and trailer - indicative of tight freight capacity.

The number of fleets who intend some of their orders for added capacity has grown to the highest in more than two years, but still, on average, it's below pre-2009 levels. Significant capacity is being a added at a mid-size LTL carrier and mid-size TL carrier. Additionally, one smaller fleet that has been adding capacity throughout 2010 (in spite of slow economic growth) is still adding some more - a small order, but all for added capacity.

Nevertheless, the company notes in its report, "our data agrees with others in the industry: Most of the orders being placed now for power units are primarily for replacement needs."

Engine Choices

The Fleet Sentiment Report also includes input from fleets about their 2010 emission engine choices.

"The responses we have been receiving from our fleet advisors indicates that as they are making the decision, all but a small percentage of the group that regularly reports to us have determined that SCR offers them more benefits than the Advanced EGR technology," says Chris Kemmer, CKCVR's founder. However, she noted, "There does still remain a significant percentage that have yet to make up their mind."

CKCVR regularly polls a group of small, medium and large for-hire, private and government fleet operators about their equipment purchasing plans and overall fleet environment. The quarterly Fleet Sentiment survey includes questions about short and longer term equipment buying plans, preferred OEM, new specs, current fleet capacity vs. freight demand, equipment utilization rates including the percent of parked vehicles, 2010 emission engine choices and best-in-class product ratings.

In January 2011, 55 fleets operating more than 70,000 medium- and heavy-duty power units and 140,000 trailers responded to the quarterly Fleet Sentiment questionnaire.

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