Truck freight volume is down 20% in the U.S., and year-on-year orders for new rigs plunged 69% in June and 80% in July, according to Americas Commercial Transport Research Co.
The July decline follows a 69% drop in June. Columbus, Ind.-based ACT Research says a likely upswing in inventories of Class 8 highway tractors will trigger production cuts in 2020. Makers of the trailers hauled by such trucks also anticipate a downturn, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Sales of highway trucks are widely considered to be an early indicator of future economic growth in the U.S.
U.S. truck fleets now have 6% more hauling capacity—or about 90,000 Class 8 trucks—than they need, according to ACT Research. The firm predicts that production of heavy-duty trucks will drop from about 350,000 units this year to 238,000 in 2020. The latter volume is more typical of a year in which trucking companies are buying only enough vehicles to replace end-of-life trucks.
Truck operators tell the Journal that the U.S.-China trade war has reduced freight volume already. They predict further shrinkage because of the new round of U.S. tariffs on $110 billion worth of Chinese goods that took effect on Sept. 1.
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