Driver shortage impacting truck buying plans: Survey

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fewer fleets are planning to buy trucks in the next quarter, but those are buying, tend to be buying a lot.

According to CK Commercial Vehicle Research’s most recent Fleet Sentiment Report, demand for new equipment is still strong, but dropped slightly from the last quarter. However, the average size of the order is the highest since the fourth quarter of 2008 as larger fleets are planning orders.

Uncertainty about engine technology is still a factor for some, and the driver shortage is already affecting carriers’ ability to grow their fleets, says CK.

Orders are being driven by increases in freight volume, replacement of aging equipment, ordering units for evaluation of new engine technology. Some fleets are still buying used equipment as an option, especially if they are concerned about new engine technology, with 12 percent of fleets planning to buy 70 to 80 used units, the survey said.

More of the orders being placed now (vs. last quarter) are for immediate (or as soon as built) delivery.

A rising percentage of fleets (50%) are buying equipment in order to add capacity, up from 27.5 percent in the first quarter. The report finds that it’s not necessarily the largest fleets adding capacity, but small and mid-size fleets, primarily in food, aggregates, building products, and petroleum.

As with power units, fewer fleets plan to place new orders for trailers this quarter — but the overall projected volume of those orders is better.

Nearly three quarters of planned orders for trailers are coming from fleets operating in excess of 1000 total medium and heavy duty units (power and trailer).

Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of fleets surveyed indicate that the shortage of drivers is impacting their fleet now or likely will in the future.

Over 40 percent say that the shortage limits the number of new units that can be added for new capacity or by the necessity to re-deploy their fleet to more short haul/regional routes.

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