Ontario dump truck market sizzles

by Abdul Latheef

The demand for dump trucks has skyrocketed in Ontario following a decision by the provincial government to start enforcing the so-called SPIF regime.

In fact, the demand is so high, dealers and suppliers say they will be unable to deliver the equipment until later this year.

Vision Truck Group
John Baker: our volume of enquiries has gone through the roof. (Photo: Vision Truck Group)

“Since December, our volume of enquiries has gone through the roof, and we’re bordering on being more or less sold out of triaxle dump trucks at least for the next four-to-six months,” said John Baker, director of sales for Mack Trucks at Vision Truck Group of Toronto, Ont.

“We have trucks and boxes planned, but we can only complete and deliver so many trucks. Spring 2021 is pretty much at capacity.”

SPIF refers to the Ontario Regulation 413/05: Vehicle Weights and Dimensions for Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly Vehicles.

It was adopted in stages during 2000-11, and operators have had nearly 10 years of grandfathering period to comply with the rule.

That deadline expired Dec. 31, and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) began enforcing the law New Year’s Day.

Trucks with SPIF configurations are allowed a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 36 metric tonnes while non-SPIF vehicles will be restricted to operating at a GVWR of 27 tonnes.

“Once the MTO made a clear statement that SPIF changes were happening 100%, then we saw a major rush to buy dump trucks. No question.”

– John Baker, director of sales for Mack Trucks, Vision Truck Group.

Baker said the larger fleets had begun ordering triaxles and tandem steer trucks in higher-than-normal volume since 2018 in anticipation of SPIF implementation.

He said many dump truck operators and smaller fleets held back as long as possible.

“In some cases, not fully convinced the MTO would enforce their planned SPIF changes at the end of 2020, and we saw attempts to change the government’s mind with rallies and convoys, etc.,” Baker said referring to a series protests staged by the Ontario Dump Truck Association (ODTA).

“But once the MTO made a clear statement that SPIF changes were happening 100%, then we saw a major rush to buy dump trucks. No question.”

In addition to dump trucks, mixers, cranes, hook-loaders, roll-offs, and stone slingers are also in high demand, Baker said.

Infrastructure Ontario
Increased infrastructure spending has also helped boost the market. (Photo: Infrastructure Ontario)

Infrastructure boost

Government attempts to revive the pandemic-battered economy through increased infrastructure spending have also helped boost the market.

“There is an influx of funds into construction projects such as the expansion of the 401,407 and 413 highways,” said Syed Ahmed, account manager at Cervus Equipment – Peterbilt of Mississauga, Ont.

The dealership has booked orders for about 250 dump trucks for this year, compared to less than 220 last year, he said.

Ahmed said the SPIF enforcement saw a lot of operators getting rid of their older equipment and purchasing new compliant trucks.

“As a result of all this, we are out of stock on dump bodies for this year as most of them have build dates for October, or well after the season.”

Manjinder Bajwa, account manager at Rush Truck Centres of Canada confirmed a shortage of dump truck bodies, saying demand is outstripping supply.

“We have chassis, but we don’t have the box right now,” he said.

Bajwa said one reason for the shortage is factories are running at reduced capacity due to Covid-19.

“I have a few trucks sitting in my yard. Every single day, I receive enquiry about them, but I tell them, ‘They are all gone.’”

He said any order placed for a dump truck now would not be delivered until after July.

Gin-Cor
Gin-Cor says the demand for retrofitting is so high, the industry is facing a shortage of parts. (Photo: Gin-Cor Werx)

Suppliers under pressure

Gin-Cor Werx, a leading dump truck body supplier based in Mattawa, Ont., has seen an increase in the demand for both equipment and retrofitting in recent months.

There are so many clients seeking retrofitting that the industry is facing a shortage of components, said Luc Stang, president and CEO of Gin-Cor.

“It is going to be hard for people to have vehicles retrofitted over the next few quarters…”

– Luc Stang, president and CEO, Gin-Cor Werx.

The situation has been exacerbated by supply-chain disruptions, caused by the pandemic, he said.

“It is going to be hard for people to have vehicles retrofitted over the next few quarters because the producers have not caught up or ramped up fast enough to have materials available to make more vehicles compliant.”

He said people working in the industry are busy from now until mid-summer for retrofits, and for new builds even longer.

“The lead times to get work done is very difficult for people to be able to be compliant in a very short timeframe even if they wanted to, and they had the money,” said Stang.

He called it an “unfortunate reality.”

Stang said the industry as a whole will need additional advance planning for 2021 and beyond to adjust to demands, especially from large metropolitan construction growth centers.

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  • It is amazing. Every time that you hit the highway, the majority of vehicles are dump trucks: assorted styles and size.
    My question is this: there is only so much saturation to be had. What happens when most independents realize that they are only existing to pay for the truck? Company fleets are okay because the volume will allow them to continue. I wonder how many dumps on the road are leased. If it dries up, who will benefit by the glut of used trucks? The corporate fleets, of course.
    Then, they can buy up the excess market, at a discount and continue to grow. The poor independent will be left at the side of the road.
    Infrastructure can only go on for so long, before it slows down. It has always been cyclical. It is only a matter of time.