Freightliner plant

Vehicles in manufacturing on the Cleveland, N.C., truck plant. (Freightliner through YouTube)

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Class 8 truck manufacturing and gross sales elevated in 2022 and received’t fall off a cliff in 2023, trade consultants mentioned, however the coming yr nonetheless guarantees some uncertainty, in fact.

Key variables for the yr forward embrace whether or not unmet demand for brand spanking new tools continues, the state of freight volumes and service profitability, and the potential for additional disruptions to recovering provide chains — all of which is able to decide what number of orders heavy-duty truck makers slot and what number of vans they construct after which promote.

“Whereas the freight markets stay lackluster in the mean time, there may be nonetheless a big want to interchange growing old tools,” Jonathan Starks, CEO of the transportation intelligence agency FTR, mentioned because the yr ended. “It will assist maintain excessive manufacturing and gross sales volumes effectively into 2023,” constructing on truck makers’ “robust enchancment over the past a number of months in getting accomplished models out the door.”

Kenny Vieth, president of ACT Analysis, additionally cited robust demand for tools, “and with inflation metrics moderating, we at the moment are extra satisfied that first-half construct charges can be sustained deeper into the second half of 2023.”

ACT’s forecast, as of Jan. 10, known as for North American Class 8 manufacturing to come back in at 304,500 models in 2023, down 3.8% in contrast with final yr. The analysis agency put the ultimate 2022 Class 8 construct quantity at 316,400 autos, up 19.6% from 2021.

One other trade analyst weighed in on the almost certainly prospects for brand spanking new vans this yr.

“Wanting forward into the primary half of 2023, we anticipate many of the incremental demand for heavy-duty vans to proceed to come back from bigger fleets,” mentioned Dan Clark, head of car and tools finance at BMO Business Financial institution, “at the very least till spot freight charges discover a backside, which can not occur till effectively into the brand new yr.”

Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding freight demand and the broader financial system, truck producers and trade suppliers are investing closely in new merchandise, various energy and rising applied sciences.

The introduction of Cummins Inc.’s new 15-liter pure gasoline engine in late 2023 is predicted by advocates to speed up the transition of industrial quality fleets which have begun their deployment of renewable pure gasoline as an alternative choice to diesel whereas additionally bringing on new fleets that had been ready for the upper powered engine.

Adam Comora and Jonathan Maurer, co-CEOs of RNG provider Opal Fuels, famous that enormous fleets corresponding to UPS Inc. and Inc. have moved to safe long-term provides and repair for RNG. They see 2023 because the yr others within the transportation trade will transfer swiftly to do the identical.

Deep Dive: Class 8 Market

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In the meantime, company sustainability efforts will drive adoption of electrical autos “maybe greater than even the rules,” Brett Pope, director of electrical autos for Volvo Vehicles North America, mentioned final Could.

Might 2023 be the beginning of that?

Beneath the not too long ago enacted federal Inflation Discount Act, electrical business autos in 2023 are eligible for a tax credit score equal to the lesser of 15% of the taxpayer’s foundation within the automobile or incremental price of the automobile — if the automobile meets sure necessities. The quantity of the credit score is capped at as much as $40,000 for vans with a gross automobile weight over 14,000 kilos.

Truck maker Traton Group, whose manufacturers embrace Navistar’s Worldwide Truck, has mentioned the way forward for the logistics trade belongs to battery-electric and autonomous autos, however that doesn’t make the corporate’s widespread base engine — its new 13-liter diesel — “yesterday’s information.”

“Relying on area and space of software, it would take these progressive applied sciences a number of years to achieve huge market protection. Till that’s the case, the CBE helps to make heavy-duty business autos extra cost-efficient and to scale back their emissions,” the corporate acknowledged in a launch. “On the identical time, it’s laying the inspiration for future initiatives throughout your entire Traton Group as a modular engine born out of collaboration between the manufacturers.”

In the meantime, energy administration firm Eaton introduced its automobile group fashioned a brand new ePowertrain enterprise unit, which is able to focus in 2023 on merchandise from Eaton’s electrified automobile transmission, discount gearing and differential portfolios.

Hyliion Holdings Corp., a supplier of electrified powertrain programs for Class 8 vans, mentioned it plans to introduce a truck that depends on its fuel-agnostic Karno energy system, which it acquired from GE Additive, a unit of GE.

“We’ll work on commercializing the truck product and work on a stationary resolution for offering energy to EV chargers as effectively,” CEO and founder Thomas Healy mentioned.

A P.S.I. exhibit at an trade present. (John Sommers II for Transport Matters)

Trade provider Clarience Applied sciences acquired Strain Programs Worldwide, a supplier of computerized tire inflation programs for business trailers. In 2023, the corporate expects to see tire-related applied sciences gaining adoption as business fleets shift towards electrical autos. The acquisition consists of P.S.I.’s manufacturing operations in addition to its Truck System Applied sciences operations, each situated in San Antonio.

“As electrical automobile fleets search to maximise vary and decrease downtime, tire rolling resistance performs an more and more vital function in figuring out EV vary,” mentioned Clarience CEO Brian Kupchella.

Truck producer Paccar Inc. mentioned its elements enterprise and the “stickiness” of its reference to prospects can be key parts of its plan to develop its Lessons 6-8 market share in 2023.

Paccar CEO Preston Feight mentioned the corporate shouldn’t be making a call to go all-in now on rising applied sciences corresponding to hydrogen gas cells, hydrogen inside combustion engines or NMC (a mixture of nickel, manganese and cobalt) batteries.

“It’s masking the sphere, proper now, with applicable funding ranges,” Feight mentioned.

Paccar is presently producing seven battery-electric truck fashions beneath its main manufacturers: Kenworth Truck Co., Peterbilt Motors Co. and DAF.

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