OEMs scrambling to keep up with surging demand

What a difference a year makes. At the beginning of 2020, commercial vehicle manufacturers were dealing with falling demand for new trucks, while in 2021 the struggle is to ramp up production during a pandemic to keep up with surging demand. ACT Research made the observation in its most recent State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Report.

“To repurpose a phrase, commercial vehicle demand started 2020 like a lamb and left the year like a lion. At the start of 2021, the challenges for medium- and heavy-duty OEMs and suppliers are flipped 180 degrees from a year ago,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s president and senior analyst.

(Photo: John G. Smith)

“Where the challenge a year ago was in winding down build rates to align production with tepid demand, the industry’s challenge today is to ramp-up as rapidly as possible to meet soaring demand.

The near-term ramp is not without challenges, however, and those include the global steel and silicon chip shortages, as well as ramping up during a pandemic.”

Vieth added: “It seems that everyone is ordering in the Class 8 segment, but the tractor market is rising at a considerably more rapid clip, if against easier year-ago comparisons, than the vocational truck side of market.”