Conditions For The Trucking Industry Are Improving
The last few months have produced a number of encouraging indicators that showing that the trucking industry is starting to improve again. One major sign of improvement is the rising profits and production levels reported by the biggest vehicle OEMs.
Daimler Trucks of North America released a report detailing that they took a total of 104,000 orders in 2011 for Class 8 trucks. This strong purchasing trend is expected to continue through the first quarter of 2012 as well. This is helping the company returning to the normal levels of production they were enjoying before the current recession hit. Most of these orders are being placed by trucking companies in need of replacements for old vehicles that are costing too much to operate. The new efficiency improvements found on new models allow companies to create more truck driving jobs by saving money on fuel and repairs.
Other large manufacturers have also shown improvements in their financial reports. Volvo's truck production line demonstrated that it reached an all-time record for their market share during 2011. They managed to capture 12.1% of all trucking purchases for both the United States and Canada. The specialty engines and new automated manual transmission produced by Volvo also reached new levels of market penetration.
PACCAR is continuing to hold a strong pattern of growth and celebrated 2011 as their 73rd year with net profits in a year. The last part of 2011 brought in the highest revenues the company has ever seen, a surprising turn from the falling profits most companies saw during 2009 and 2010. PACCAR produces both the Kenworth and Peterbilt truck lines, both which saw sales numbers increase by over 90% in December 2011 alone.
Trailer builders are seeing improvements as well. The middle of the year was slow, but the last quarter of 2011 saw impressive sales increases. November and December both reached five year highs and backlogs grew extensively. Few companies cancelled their orders as well even as backlogs grew. This indicates that trucking companies are really in need of more trailers.
All of these positive signs of improvement are backed up by data from a survey held by CK Commercial Vehicle Research. Representatives at all types of trucking fleets were asked about their intentions to purchase equipment during 2012. 20% of fleets plan to add new equipment to expand their capacity, indicating the creation of some truck driving jobs. Average size for new orders totaled about 16% of the existing population for each fleet.
Companies will likely base their purchases this year on the newest technologies. Automated transmissions and stronger powertrains reduce the need for costly repairs and help drivers navigate in difficult conditions. Tire pressure monitoring helps prevent blowouts, while new safety equipment for monitoring driver alertness and speed prevent accidents. Trucking companies understand that these improvements help increase their bottom line.