Used Class 8 truck sales up in 2020, signaling good year for trucking

January 27, 2021

Tyson Fisher


Despite major disruptions to the economy last year, demand for trucks was up, as highlighted in the year-end used Class 8 truck sales numbers released by ACT Research.

According to the latest data published by ACT Research, used Class 8 truck same-dealer sales volumes increased by 22% last year compared with 2019. However, the average price was down 7%. Average miles also were down 3%, and the average age decreased by 8%.

Month to month, used Class 8 truck sales were up 13% in December. The average price in December increased by 3%, and the average age went up slightly by 1%.

“Comments from dealers since last month’s publication continue to focus on how much better than expected the used truck market was in 2020, a theme that seems to resonate throughout not only the commercial vehicle industry, but the broader economy as well,” Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, lackluster new truck sales conspired to choke the flow of equipment into the secondary market. Dealers continue to lament the lack of inventory as the main limiting factor to what could have been an even better year.”

There were some differences in buyers. In the first half of 2020, retail customers did not buy many used Class 8 trucks. However, they began purchasing trucks “with gusto” in the second half, according to ACT Research. On the other hand, wholesale and auction sales had a good start to the year. Despite the strong start, auction sales ended the year in negative territory.

Wholesale volumes for used Class 8 trucks ended on a positive note compared with the previous year.

ACT Research touts itself as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets, according to its website. All major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers use ACT Research’s services, as well as banking and investment companies.

Data regarding used Class 8 truck sales for 2020 jibes with other data relative to the trucking industry last year. In a recent segment on Land Line Now, Noel Perry, economist with Transport Futures, explained how the pandemic yielded positive results for many in the trucking industry.

“Since the lifting of the extreme lockdown restrictions back in April last year and early May, this has been a good time to be in trucking,” Perry told Land Line Now.

According to Perry, Americans have had a lot of extra cash to spend on “toys” with the money they have saved by not going to vacation destinations, sporting events, concerts and other services.

“Between buying these toys and fixing things at home, we have caused the need for more stuff that gets shipped,” Perry said. “Services don’t get shipped. Goods do, and so this has been a great time for us.”

However, the benefits to trucking as a result of the pandemic could go away once pre-pandemic life returns. To hear the full interview with Perry, click here or listen on the media player below. LL

Land Line Now Senior Correspondent Scott Thompson contributed to this report.