Freight Growth Fueling Demand for Used Long-Haul Trucks

May 31, 2018 by Clarissa Hawes

A surge in freight is fueling robust sales of used trucks, according to industry data and truck dealers.

Sales of used trucks in the heaviest Class 8 weight segment rose 9 percent in April compared with the same month a year earlier.

Used truck sales rose to 22,900 in April, up from 21,000 a year earlier, said Steve Tam, vice president of ACT Research.

“It’s not going to be a runaway year, but we will probably end it with a 5 percent increase in used truck sales compared with 2017,” Tam told Trucks.com.

Freight growth remains solid, and carriers are making money, he said.

The amount of freight hauled by the trucking industry surged 9.5 percent in April compared with the same month a year earlier, according to the American Trucking Associations.

This is the largest year-over-year increase since October 2017, the ATA said.

“It’s a good time to be a trucker,” Tam said.

There are about 6.6 loads for every available truck trailer, according to DAT Solutions, which tracks freight and rates. A year ago, there were 3.5 loads per every van.

That’s sparked a buying spree for both new and used trucks.

Used truck sales are running significantly higher than last year, said Mike Sanders, owner of Heartland Truck & Equipment, a used truck dealer in Kansas City, Mo.

“Our sales in the first four months of 2018 already outnumber what we did in 12 months last year,” Sanders told Trucks.com.

Used Freightliners, Peterbilts and Kenworths are his top sellers, he said.

Truckers are buying used trucks as truck manufacturers struggle to keep up with the demand for new trucks and delivery dates, which are stretching out into next year for some models, Tam said.

“If a trucker goes in and wants to buy new and can’t get it now, used truck dealers have a lot of good late-model, low-mileage aerodynamic sleeper options,” he said.

The volume of trade-ins was lower than expected, which led to stronger used truck prices in April, according to the latest used truck report by J.D. Power.

The average price for a used 2015 big rig with a sleeper was about $45,500, an 11.7 percent increase from March, J.D. Power said.

In the first four months of the year, trucks four to six years old sold for 20 percent more than they did during the same time frame in 2017, the report said.

But the price increases are likely to ebb as more new trucks are delivered to fleets, increasing the inventory of older models, analysts said.

“We expect the supply of used trucks to increase noticeably as the second quarter unfolds,” J.D. Power said in its report.

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