New registrations of commercial vehicles in Classes 4 through 8 are down 4.2 percent through August of this year, according to new research presented by IHS Markit during the annual Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) underway in Las Vegas.
Registrations of new Class 8 commercial vehicles are down 17.1 percent and Class 7 trucks are down just .6 percent, while all other classes experienced gains over the same timeframe last year. Freightliner leads the market for Class 4-8 vehicles with 27 percent of registrations during the January to August timeframe.
Recent analysis from IHS Markit indicates the lowest volumes of vehicles registered to a business are to those in Class 1, with just 24 percent share registered to a business, while nearly 96 percent of Classes 7 and 8 commercial vehicles are registered to a business.
“Traditionally, the larger trucks have a single purpose — for work applications — versus the smaller trucks, which are used for both personal and business needs,” said Gary Meteer, director of commercial vehicle solutions at IHS Markit. “As we work our way up the weight scale, the business use gets larger.”
Additionally, new vehicle registrations by those fleets operating more than 500 vehicles have declined, resulting in the decline of tractor trucks versus the same period in 2015. “These large fleets have been in a replacement cycle for the past five years, and large fleets have accounted for more than 50 percent of Class 8 new registrations during this period,” Meteer said.
“Some of this year’s slowing may be the result of uncertainty in the demand for goods with the general slowing of the economic growth in the most recent quarters.”
When comparing new registrations against vehicles in operation, these same businesses (those that operate more than 500 in their fleet) have 43 percent share of new registrations through August, while only representing 22 percent of vehicles in operation.
While commercial vehicle new registrations are still dominated by diesel-powered engines, overall diesel share is influenced by the availability of diesel-powered engines within each class of truck. The restricted availability of diesel engines in Class 4 vehicles has pulled the overall share diesel engines account for in Classes 4-8 vehicles down. When looking at OEMs, Cummins leads the industry in share of new diesel registrations, with 38.4 percent of the market.
According to the analysis, through August 2016, new registrations of Class 8 vehicles represent just 34 percent of total new registrations, the lowest level ever reported for Class 8 share of new registrations — surpassing the previous low in 2009 of 35.2 percent.
However, Class 3 new registrations are at a record high of 43 percent, surpassing previous record high share of 40.6 percent in 2014. New registrations of Class 3 vehicles to individuals were 40 percent in the first eight months of the 2016 CY, at their highest level since the 2009 CY, when individual registration accounted for 42 percent of Class 3 new registrations.
According to the analysis, there are 9.4 million commercial vehicles (Classes 4-8) in operation on U.S. roads, based on a snapshot taken in June of this year. One of the most important statistics about vehicles in operation is that only 22 percent of vehicles on the road are operated by fleet managers with more than 500 vehicles, as compared to 43 percent for new registrations. Once a vehicle goes through its initial purchase cycle, it moves from these large fleets to small and mid-size fleets.