ENGLEWOOD, Colo.Commercial vehicle registrations are one measure of the health of the commercial vehicle business, and it seems things are looking up for the market, according to research by IHS Automotive.
Registrations of new Class 3-8 commercial vehicles grew 8.2 percent last year to 714,995 units, the third-best calendar year for new CV registrations since 2000, according to IHS.
The number of new registrations in 2015 was more than double the 329,609 units sold during the bottom of the trough of the 2009 recession.
IHS said the strength of new registrations came from Class 6 and 8 vehicles, which increased 15.8 and 12.8 percent, respectively, over 2014. These new registrations were supported predominantly by large fleets, those operating more than 501 units. New registrations of Class 6 vehicles by these large fleets surged 21.4 percent, compared with 15.8 percent for the entire segment, and these large fleets accounted for 52 percent of Class 6 new registrations in 2015.
Similarly, new Class 8 registrations by large fleets rose 13.5 percent, compared with 12.8 for the entire class, and these large fleets accounted for nearly 49 percent of the new registrations in 2015.
New registrations for the other commercial classes were below the industry average of 8.2 percent.
Historically, Class 4-7 vehicles have accounted for the largest share of new registrations in each calendar year, according to IHS, and were at their highest levels when the commercial vehicle industry peaked in 2006. In 2015, Class 8 vehicles were the dominant sector, as they have been since 2011, according to IHS.
Large fleets...have not only been the strength in the industry for GVW 8 vehicles in (calendar year) 2015 and CY 2014, but they also were the driving force in pulling the market out of the low levels of activity in the 2009 and 2010 calendar years, said Gary Meteer, director of commercial solutions for IHS.
He predicted the large fleet replacement of their Class 8 inventory peaked in 2015, however Class 4-7 vehicle purchases are expected to continue to increase through 2017.
In addition to the 714,995 new registrations of Class 3-8 vehicles in 2015, there were 755,109 used commercial vehicle transactions, putting combined commercial vehicle registrations last year at 1.47 million units, the highest since used commercial vehicle transactions started to be recorded at the start of 2005, IHS said.
Not only did the combined total for commercial vehicles set a new record, the demand for used GVW 3-8 vehicles remains strong as used commercial vehicle transactions continue to account for the largest share of combined registrations. A steady flow of used equipment is provided by fleet trade-outs, especially by large fleets, as they cycle their equipment, Mr. Meteer said.
While used commercial vehicle transactions edged up only 6.2 percent from 2014, it was the second-best level ever for a calendar year, behind 2011.
Regionally, shares of total new registrations have been fairly consistent, with the South and Central regions accounting for the largest share of commercial vehicle new registrations followed by the West and Northeast regions.
With the large number of major fleets in the South, a strong case can be made that new registrations in the region are a good indicator of the health of the industry. However, the locations of the fleets and the type of vehicles they run have an impact on the performance of each region, Mr. Meteer said.
During 2015, new registrations in the Central region outperformed the balance of the regions with an increase of 16 percent over 2014; Central region new registrations of Class 8 vehicles jumped 23.4 percent over 2014.
Ford Motor Co. continues to be the leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles with a 26.6-percent share of registrationsa 47.3 share of Class 3 vehicle registrations, a 50.3 percent share of Class 4 and a 65.9 percent share in Class 5.
Daimler Group's Freightliner brand was the No. 2 commercial vehicle brand, accounting for 20 percent of registrations in 2015. Last year Freightliner's new registrations of Class 3-8 vehicles reached a record level at just under 143,000 units, IHS reported. The growth in Freightliner's new registrations was a result of an 18.4-percent increase in Class 8 units compared with 2014.
Mr. Mateer also noted that diesel-powered vehicles represented 77.5 percent of new registrations in 2015, down slightly from 77.7 percent in 2014.
Meanwhile fleets of two to 500 units accounted for the largest share of new registrations (40.3 percent) followed by fleets of more than 501 units at 33.7 percent. The largest gain in new registrations, however, was among the single-vehicle fleets.
While the large fleets get the majority of the attention and are also easier to identify by trade publications and the general public, the small fleets are continuing to grow and account for a larger share of the business, Mr. Meteer said.
Overall, the number of commercial vehicles registered for use in the U.S. was 12.7 million in 2015, an increase of 441,000 units from 2014.
About 30.8 percent of Class 3-8 commercial vehicles registered were produced prior to the 2000 model year. This vehicle population is significant to parts manufacturers and service providers, said Mr. Meteer, noting this represents a good business opportunity.
The older models represent a range from a high of 39.9 percent in GVW 6 to a low of 24 percent for GVW 5 vehicles.
New commercial vehicle registrations in Canada totaled 78,197 units in 2015, down 4.4 percent from 2014.
The commercial vehicle market in Canada is heavily dependent on the performance of Class 3 and 8 vehicles, which together accounted for 78.2 percent of new registrations last year, Mr. Meteer said. Class 3 new registrations fell 9.4 percent while Class 8 new registrations edged up 0.5 percent over 2014.
Ford remains the top-selling manufacturer in the commercial vehicle market in Canada, with a 25.2 percent share of Class 3-8 new registrations in 2015. Freightliner came in second with a 12.9-percent share.
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