Through the end of third-quarter 2021, sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks were up year over year. Medium-duty truck sales totaled 153,273—an increase of 15.7% over the same period in 2020. Heavy- duty-truck sales totaled 163,863—up 22.3% compared with the 2020 period. Demand for commercial vehicles continues to be strong, with industry-wide supply shortages limiting production and sales.
According to ACT Research, orders for Class 8 trucks fell slightly in September 2021 to 27,400, a decline of 10.9% from September 2020, and some 30% from August 2021. Even so, these orders continue to add to a backlog of Class 8 truck orders, with some OEMs pushing unbuilt orders for 2021 trucks into 2022.
Throughout the year, the industry has dealt with shortages of semiconductor microchips, wiring harnesses and tires. While building trucks has been difficult because of shortages of inputs, demand for many other products has also been very strong on the back of an expanding economy featuring robust consumer spending. But there are still large backlogs of freight stuck in ships off coastal ports, waiting to be unloaded. Both limited staff at ports and the ongoing truck driver shortage have hindered delivery of freight once it reaches the ports. Some companies have turned to chartering their own private ships in an effort to avoid delays and stock shelves in time for the winter holiday season.
Demand for commercial trucks should remain strong well into 2022. But supply chain issues have somewhat reduced our expectations for sales this year. We now forecast medium-duty truck sales of around 235,000 and heavy-duty truck sales of some 230,000 for all of 2021.