Polk: New vehicle registrations up, used market hits record levels

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Updated Dec 2, 2010


Commercial vehicle (GVWR Class 3-8) registrations in the United States during the first nine months of 2010 were 269,650 units, up 9.6 percent over the same period last year, according to Polk, a provider of data-driven products for the commercial vehicle industry. Additionally, the used commercial vehicle market achieved a new record of registrations during a nine-month timeframe at 524,500 units.

Polk says this historic volume represents 66 percent of the commercial vehicle market and an increase of 18.7 percent over the same timeframe in 2009. Combined registrations of new and used commercial vehicles in the first nine months of 2010 were 794,200, representing a 15.5 percent increase over the same period last year.

New commercial trailer registrations during the first nine months of 2010 were up 42.2 percent over the same period last year, to 76,125 units. The strength of the new trailer market is strongly influenced by dry and refrigerated van trailers, which typically account for about 64 percent of total new trailer registrations, according to Polk. During the first nine months of 2010, new van trailer registrations were up 75.2 percent from the same period last year and represented about 72 percent of new trailer registrations. Grain, flatbed and hoppers round out the top four trailer types registered during the first nine months of 2010.

“While new trailer registrations remain below record levels set in 1995, this improvement is significant and indicates that the market for both commercial power units and trailers has turned around after three consecutive down years,” says Gary Meteer, director of sales and client services at Polk. “There is a strong correlation between GVW 8 registrations and the registration of new commercial trailers through the first nine months of 2010 – as both have shown increases.”

The strong market for used commercial vehicles is most evident in Class 8 vehicles, which represented almost half of the total used commercial transactions during the first nine months of the calendar year, compared to about 42 percent in 2009. Used Class 8 transactions were 37 percent higher during the nine months in 2010 versus the same period last year.

According to Polk, this is the first year that registrations of used commercial vehicles have seen such significant growth. The uptick in the used market signifies a large opportunity for aftermarket parts manufacturers and suppliers that rely on the commercial repair and replacement business.

“The significant increase in used commercial vehicle registrations so far this year is indicative of an improving business climate as companies update their equipment with newer models,” Meteer says. “Large fleet owners and operators are upgrading to new vehicles, and therefore the smaller fleet companies and independent owner-operators have great opportunities to find available clean used equipment.”