SEATTLE, Wash. – Class 8 truck orders have fallen sharply in recent months, but the folks at Mack Trucks aren’t sweating.
“I almost get the sense people are standing on the ledge, looking over and trying to talk themselves into a downturn,” said Jonathan Randall, senior vice-president of North American sales and marketing with Mack Trucks. “We’re not seeing it. We’re not feeling it.”
He characterized the current truck market as “hot,” despite lower orders in the first months of 2019.
“The orders have fallen off significantly, but that’s expected,” he told the trucking industry press during an event here. “We can’t continue to fill an already full cup. The torrid pace we were accepting orders at six or seven months ago couldn’t continue. We knew that. That order intake dip is fully expected.”
The good news, however, is that interest for new units remains high. There remains in place a solid backlog, and production is steady. There are also few cancellations happening.
“Our orderbook is firm, solid and strong,” said Randall.
Mack is sticking to its previously stated projections of a 310,000-unit Class 8 market this year for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Most of the demand is coming from the longhaul segment, where new truck registrations climbed from 44% in 2018 to 50% so far this year. Mack is well positioned to take advantage with its new Anthem highway tractor, Randall said.
“The Anthem is getting us into more and more fleets,” he explained.
Mack recently opened its orderbook for 2020 and demand is strong, Randall noted.
“Demand is there because fleets are now starting to plan next year’s purchases,” he said. “The limiting factor seems to be people. Customers are saying ‘I’ll order 50, but I’d order another 20 tomorrow if I could hire another 20 drivers’.”
With the Anthem, Mack is looking to strengthen its presence in the west, where big block engines and high horsepower are still highly sought after. Randall said Mack is aiming to educate fleets on the capabilities of its 13-liter engines.
“A 13-liter is economically able to pull the majority of what needs to be pulled across the country,” he said, adding Mack has no plans to begin offering a 15-liter engine.
Kevin McCann, operations manager with aggregate hauler Silver Streak Trucking, reaffirmed the capabilities of a 13L engine in the western market.
“We actually outpulled a 600-hp Cummins with a 505-hp Mack,” he said of one of the company’s Mack Granites. “We made it back to the gravel pit and the comment over the CB was ‘My gosh, what kinda power do you have in that truck?’ It had to do with the truck, the operator, and the automatic transmission. We’re being noticed out there. There’s a lot of attention to what we’re doing and what we’re creating out here.”
While the Anthem is getting Mack back into the linehaul segment in a meaningful way, Randall said the truckmaker’s goals in that segment are “modest.”
“We know we are not going to be the number one player in that category, but we need to have a strong linehaul business because that’s half the market,” he said. “We expect to see strong growth.”
Silver Streak owner Tina Benson (left) and operations manager Kevin McCann give a tour of their operations.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies