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May Class 8 market finds pricing down, volume up



Class 8 sales per dealership dropped to 3.9 in May, a 0.4 truck decrease compared to April, and the first time the average has dropped below 4.0 since January. Dealers are selling an average of 10.6% fewer trucks in 2019 compared to the same period of 2018. Pictured is the Kenworth Mid-Atlantic Baltimore dealership. (Courtesy: KENWORTH TRUCK CO.)

TYSONS, Va. — May’s Class 8 market was basically the opposite of April, with pricing down and volume up in both the auction and retail channels.

So says the J.D. Power Valuation Services Commercial Truck Guidelines published by the National Automobile Dealers Association.

“What April bringeth, May taketh away,” the report begins. “Pricing of our benchmark model was back down after an unusual April with volume way up compared to recent months. May’s activity looked more logical than April’s given the market dynamics currently in effect.

The report detailed Class 8 used truck sales for model years 2011-2016:

  • Model year 2016: $36,500 average; $7,420 (17.0%) lower than April
  • Model year 2015: $36,000 average; $8,380 (18.9%) lower than April
  • Model year 2014: $28,750 average; $3,428 (10.7%) lower than April
  • Model year 2013: $23,500 average; $1,300 (5.2%) lower than April
  • Model year 2012: $18,750 average; $2,964 (13.7 %) lower than April
  • Model year 2011: $17,765 average; $1,730 (10.8%) higher than April

In the first 5 months of 2019, 4-6 year-old examples of the benchmark model brought 2.5% more money than in the same period of 2018, the review said, noting that the number of 4-6 year-old trucks sold was notably higher than any month since June 2018.

Monthly depreciation for this cohort is now averaging 2.5%, in line with what experts were predicting.

Low-mileage trucks are still bringing strong money, but the market is redefining “low mileage” downward.

The review said May’s retail pricing was similar to April’s, with spec and model mix accounting for month-over-month variation. Market weakness in the auction channel did not carry over to the retail channel.

The average sleeper tractor retailed in May was 69 months old, had 456,127 miles, and brought $57,613.

Compared to April, the average sleeper was two months younger, had 12,103 (2.6%) fewer miles, and brought $815 (1.4%) more money. Compared to May 2018, this average sleeper was one month older, had 7,950 (1.8%) more miles, and brought $4,551 (8.6%) more money.

Looking at trucks three to five years of age, May’s average pricing was as follows:

  • Model year 2017: $93,430; $4,604 (5.2%) higher than April
  • Model year 2016: $68,297; $1,939 (2.8%) lower than April
  • Model year 2015: $57,137; $532 (1.5%) lower than April

The high average for model year 2017 is due to a group of owner-operator spec trucks in the data. On an apples-to-apples basis, there was little change in value month-over-month. Year-over-year, late-model trucks sold in the first five months of 2019 brought 12.3% more money than in the same period of 2018.

Depreciation in the first five months of 2019 averaged 1.3% per month, compared to 1.6% in the same period of 2018.

Class 8 sales per dealership dropped to 3.9 in May, a 0.4 truck decrease compared to April, and the first time the average has dropped below 4.0 since January. Dealers are selling an average of 10.6% fewer trucks in 2019 compared to the same period of 2018.

As for a forecast, the review said the second quarter is drawing to a close, and, as predicted, used truck pricing remained strong in the first half of the year. This month’s lower pricing should be indicative of what to expect in upcoming months, but in an economy heavily impacted by policy uncertainty, forecasting is more difficult than in more stable times.

According to the review, the freight, financial, and manufacturing sectors are pointing to slowing growth, while the consumer sector remains strong.

Unfortunately, the review said, the consumer sector is a trailing indicator while the others are leading. The bottom line is any notable decline in economic conditions will cause an equally notable influx of used trucks to enter the market.




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FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index improves again in June up two point to 8.8



The chart shows that the 2019 Shippers Condition Index is considerable higher that for the comparable period in 2018. (Courtesy: FTR)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) rose to a good positive reading in June of 8.8, up two points from the updated May measure.  The June SCI reading is the strongest since February 2016.

Freight-related indicators are mixed, FTR said.

Manufacturing is growing very slowly, and construction is weaker. However, consumer spending remains strong.  Truckload rates are about 7.5% below 2019 with spot rates down nearly 18% whereas less-than-truckload rates have been higher this year.

Both are expected to decline in 2020.   Intermodal rates continue to be soft with rail expecting 5% growth in 2019.

“The relatively weak rate environment for truckload allows it to compete more effectively with intermodal,” said Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR. “Intermodal volumes have been stymied by trade headwinds, changes in rail service offerings, overall rail service levels, and the weak truck market. International and domestic intermodal each struggled in June with weak results.”

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem…and readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.













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Descartes Systems Group acquires for $11.2 million



BestTransport has been connecting shippers and carriers to streamline transportation processes for more than 15 years. (Courtesy: DESCARTES)

WATERLOO, Ontario — Descartes Systems Group, a global company that unites logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, said it had acquired Inc. (BestTransport), a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS) provider focused on flatbed-intensive manufacturers and distributors.

BestTransport has been connecting shippers and carriers to streamline transportation processes for more than 15 years.

Shipper and carrier customers leverage BestTransport’s platform to more efficiently manage numerous shipments each year across North America and Europe, according to Andrew Roszko, executive vice president of global sales at Descartes, adding that the company offers a full TMS suite of solutions from contract rate management through to load building, shipment execution and freight payment, with extensive capabilities for flatbed transportation moves.

“Moving goods in the flatbed market requires domain expertise and special equipment, and the associated transportation management processes have some unique characteristics,” Roszko said. “BestTransport has built a great business by creating a platform that addresses these unique characteristics with solutions available for both shippers and carriers.”

“BestTransport, like Descartes, sees the value in creating a common platform for multiple constituents to collaborate and manage the lifecycle of shipments,” said Edward J. Ryan, Descartes’ CEO. “By combining BestTransport’s platform with our Global Logistics Network, we can offer additional solutions to the community, such as Descartes MacroPoint Visibility and Capacity Matching. We welcome the BestTransport team of domain experts and community of customers to Descartes.”

BestTransport is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Descartes acquired BestTransport for $11.2 million, net of working capital, satisfied from Descartes’ existing line of credit.









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ATA Freight Forecast projects 25.6% increase in tonnage by 2030



ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations Wednesday released its latest ATA Freight Transportation Forecast: 2019 to 2030, an annual projection of the state of the freight economy, showing continued growth in the industry.

“America’s trucking industry, and the overall freight transportation industry, are poised to experience strong growth over the next decade as the country’s economy and population grow,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Our annual Freight Forecast is a valuable look at where we are headed so leaders in business and government can make important decisions about investments and policy.”

Among the findings in this year’s Freight Forecast:

  • Overall freight tonnage will grow to 20.6 billion tons in 2030, up 25.6% from 2019’s projection of 16.4 billion tons.
  • Freight industry revenues will increase 53.8% to $1.601 trillion over the next decade.
  • Trucking’s share of total freight tonnage will dip to 68.8% in 2030 from 71.1% this year, even as tonnage grows to 14.2 billion tons in 2030 from 11.7 billion tons.
  • Truckload volume will have an average annual expansion of 1.5% a year through 2024 and 2.1% for 2025-2029.
  • Less than truckload volume will have an average annual expansion of 1.8% through 2024 and 2% for 2025-2020.
  • Private carrier volume will have an average annual expansion of 1.5% percent year through 2024 and 2.2% per year for 2025-2029.
  • In 2019, truckload will handle 71.1% of truck freight volume, LTL 0.9% and private truck 35.1%
  • Trucking and total rail transportation will lose relative market share, even as revenues and tonnage grows, while intermodal rail, air and domestic waterborne transportation will show modest growth and pipeline transportation will experience explosive growth – surging 17.1% in tonnage and 8.6% in revenue over the next decade.

As with any industry, forecasts are in part based on what’s happening with the U.S. economy.

The executive summary of the Freight Forecast notes that the forecast is being released when the U.S.  economy is experiencing some volatility as uncertainties mount.

“Despite prospects for solid trend-like growth in the U.S. in 2019, investor concerns over rising risks of a downturn after 2019, stoked by developments abroad and policy concerns, resulted in sharply worsening financial conditions in late 2018.

“Helped by a dovish pivot in Federal Reserve Board monetary policy, a recovery in financial conditions is now supporting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth above trend. The second estimate of first-quarter 2019 U.S. GDP growth was 3.1%, up from 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and in line with the strong 2.9% economic growth for 2018. The healthy economy in 2018 resulted in a very strong freight market for the year.

“The robust first-quarter pace of 2019 economic growth is expected to be temporary, as it was driven by two sources of strength that could easily reverse later this year: inventory investment and net exports. Both components are volatile and rarely indicative of underlying momentum in the economy.

“Real 2019 GDP growth is expected to moderate beginning in the second quarter, and we look for a 2.7% increase for calendar year 2019. We predict annual real GDP growth will slow further to 2.1% in 2020 and 1.8% in 2021, with implications for slower growth in freight transportation demand.

“Freight Forecast clearly lays out why meeting challenges like infrastructure and workforce development are so critical to our industry’s success,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “It belongs on the desk of every decision maker in our industry and in the supply chain.”

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