Truck and component manufacturers are predicting that this year's heavy truck sales will blast last year's record out of the water.
North American sales of Class 8 trucks during the first quarter of 1999 totaled 56,584 — more than 25% above the record pace of the same period last year. If sales continue at that rate, the year-end total would be more than 226,000. However, analysts note that it's not unusual to see an upswing in orders during March.
An Eaton marketing guru predicts North American Class 8 truck sales should reach 295,000 units this year, a 10% gain over 1998. That's an all-time record, and it follows hikes of 18% last year and 17% in 1997.
Adrian Dillon, executive vice president and chief financial and planning officer for Eaton Corp., has an uncanny record for being right over the long term. He predicts similar growth through 2002. "Get ready for more of the same, well into the next century," he says.
Dillon cites continuing, robust growth in the industrial sector of the North American economy as the source of this good fortune. Dillon says the current expansion of the industry is not a boom, but a trend, noting that the U.S. industrial sector has grown 5% a year since 1990, compared to 3% for the GDP. "That means nothing but good news for trucks, truckers and trucking."
Freightliner continues to lead in heavy truck market share, with 29.4% for March. Its sales were 27% above those of a year ago. For the first three months, the truck maker is 27% ahead of last year.