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Commercial Vehicle Demand in U.S. and Canada Increasing

November 10, 2014

Demand for commercial vehicles in the U.S. and Canada continues to strengthen, though used commercial vehicle registrations still outnumber new registrations, according to Gary Meteer, director, commercial vehicle solutions at IHS Automotive. Meeter made the announcement during a presentation to industry executives at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas November 5.

The recovery in the commercial vehicle market in the U.S. and Canada is largely driven by the business community. U.S. businesses have accounted for more than 90 percent of new vehicle registrations so far in 2014, according to IHS, and the south and central regions of the country are the strongest markets, representing more than 62 percent of new vehicle registrations so far this year.

In Canada, four provinces - Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec - account for more than 87 percent of new commercial vehicle registrations, and additional growth is expected. Class 8 GVW vehicles continue to dominate both the U.S. and Canadian markets, with more than 50-percent share of new registrations in the U.S., and even greater share in Canada at more than 60 percent.

With more than 7.7 million commercial vehicles on the road, the U.S. market is at its highest levels since the 2008-09 economic downturn. There are more than 1 million Class 4-8 vehicles in operation in Canada, with Ontario and Quebec accounting for almost 50 percent of the total vehicles in operation.

IHS also reported that the average age of commercial vehicles in the fleet is shifting. In 2007, the average age among Class 4-8 vehicles was 12.5 years. Today, it is 14.7 years, with Class 6 GVW vehicles averaging 20.9 years, the highest in the fleet. Conversely, Class 5 vehicles are younger now – with an average age of 11.9 years, the youngest in the fleet – and the result of this segment of the commercial vehicle market having historical low demand.

More than 48 percent of the commercial vehicle population (VIO) of Class 4-8 vehicles in the U.S. is accounted for by small fleets, as compared to about 22 percent of new registrations, according to IHS. This speaks to the ongoing strong demand for clean used vehicles that are used by small- and medium-size businesses to handle their business needs, and Class 4 vehicles are the most prominent. Medium-size (11-500 units) fleets account for 32 percent, while Class 7 vehicles lead among medium fleet owners. For fleets with more than 501 commercial vehicles, Class 7 vehicles are most prominent, with Class 8 following close behind.

Overall, Class 8 vehicles still reign on the roads, with 43 percent share of VIO.

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