Truck fleets surveyed in mid-January feel like business is pretty solid, but many are in a wait-and-see mode when it comes to planning to add capacity this year.

Most of the 48 fleets participating in the quarterly Fleet Sentiment survey conducted Jan. 7-15 by CK Commercial Vehicle Research said they are continuing to see good demand levels for their services along with high equipment utilization rates. The driver shortage is one area that continues to especially challenge over-the-road for-hire fleets.

Other key results for the Q1 2016 Fleet Sentiment Survey:

  • A smaller percentage of fleets were planning power unit purchases in Q1 2016 versus a year ago; however, overall unit volume was higher. Conversely, more fleets planned trailer purchases but with fewer total units.  
  • A few larger fleets were planning added capacity with new trailer units, but overall fleets are primarily buying equipment for replacement only.
  • Reported equipment utilization is above 90% for trucks and more than 85% for trailers.
  • More than 50% of fleets reported that they need drivers now (to either fill seats or to grow). For the current quarter, a number have moved from needing drivings now to knowing it will be an issue in the future, according to the report.
  • A third of survey respondents are currently spec’ing downspeed powertrains with another 15% expected to do so within a couple of years.  
  • On average, survey participants view OEM integrated powertrain packages favorably.

Fleets participating in the Q1 2016 survey operate more than 46,000 medium- and heavy-duty trucks and more than 138,000 trailers. They represent a varied mix of fleet demographics.  

“Results of our Q1 2016 survey look remarkably like the same period last year,” noted Chris Kemmer from CK Commercial Vehicle Research. “Fleet capacity vs. demand and other fleet environment survey results matched very closely to Q1 2015. Early year medium- and heavy-duty equipment buying plans were somewhat uneven when compared to Q1 2015. Most respondents indicated their annual 2016 purchases would be similar to 2015; however we heard from one major fleet that is cutting purchases for both trucks and trailers at least in half, so that could definitely be a concern.”

CK Commercial Vehicle Research has been surveying fleets for more than a decade and data reported in the Fleet Sentiment Report tracks activity from 2006. A business of CK Marketing & Communications located in Columbus, Ohio, CKCVR surveys fleet advisors representing a mix of large, medium and small for-hire, private and government fleet operations.