The Class 8 truck market in the United States and Canada in 2018 is setting up to be one of the strongest sales years on record, said Kyle Quinn, general manager of Peterbilt Motors Company and Paccar senior vice president.
Citing an improving manufacturing sector, increased capital spending, strong motor vehicle sales and low unemployment, Quinn said Class 8 retail sales in 2018 could be the third-strongest on record.
“Freight tonnage is at record levels, driven by many industries as well as e-commerce,” said Quinn during a Peterbilt press conference to launch the company’s new Model 579 UltraLoft spec in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Tax law changes for businesses will create new opportunities for our customers and for us. All in all, we are in a very healthy environment.”
Quinn forecasts total Class 8 U.S. and Canadian retail truck sales to fall between 235,000 and 265,000 units in 2018 but said the driver shortage is a major headwind keeping fleets from rapid expansion. He forecasted the medium-duty market will remain steady with a market of 85,000 units in 2018.
Peterbilt is off to a strong start in 2018 after achieving record market share in 2017 in which the Denton, Texas-based company sold 43,000 trucks to capture 15.3 percent of Class 8 truck sales in the United States and Canada. Quinn said the Model 567 vocational and Model 579 on-highway truck models represented roughly 70 percent of the company’s production last year.
2018 will be the first full year for Peterbilt to offer a proprietary powertrain solution that includes the Paccar MX 13 engine, 12-speed automated transmission and 40k axle. “We saw steady growth in [Paccar powertrain] adoption through 2017 and expect that momentum to continue this year,” said Quinn.
Peterbilt recently completed a $100 million expansion at the Denton plant that included a 100,000 sq. ft. test facility in the vehicle delivery prep area, 17 new dock doors to improve material flow and the addition of an automated storage and retrieval system for painted parts.
Peterbilt also added another 25 locations to its dealer network in 2017 – its fourth straight year of adding at least that many locations – expanding its footprint to 372 locations in North America. “Our dealer network is the strongest it has ever been and it will continue to grow,” said Quinn.
Quinn said Paccar’s new Innovation Center campus in Silicon Valley, Calif., will be instrumental in the development of the company’s advanced driver assistance systems, artificial intelligence, vehicle connectivity and augmented reality initiatives.
As part of its clean energy initiative, Peterbilt also is building 16 electric test trucks – including an all-electric Model 520 refuse truck for use in California with an 80-mile range, 400-hp motor and a six-hour recharge time.