A few weeks back, a Fleet Equipment Advisory Board member asked me if I had any recent information on fleet buying trends. While I didn’t have those figures, I knew who to ask: Chris Kemmer, owner of CK Marketing and Communications. The tool she used in doing this research for us is the Fleet Sentiment Report, which is sent to key fleet mangers who are responsible for all types and sizes of truck fleets that are representative of the commercial vehicle industry. She received 48 responses to the questionnaire that was sent out in July. Here’s what the fleets reported:
“Our Buying Index—velocity and volume of power unit and trailers orders—for Q3 2017 is the lowest it’s been since Q4-09/Q1-10 when few trucks and trailers were purchased,” one fleet manger wrote. “I could be concerned about this, but there is nothing in our fleet environment measures that indicate overall freight/fleet problems that would impact fleet equipment demand. Certainly, for the short term, I could see lower equipment orders in Q3—although July numbers looks pretty strong for Class 8 trucks—but I believe it’s seasonal, not foundational.”
One question that was asked in the survey: Considering all factors that impact your company, on a scale of one to five (with one being poor and five being excellent) in your opinion, what is the overall outlook for your fleet in the next three months?
The result was the flip side of the soft equipment demand from the group in Q3. The rating is the highest ever (save one month in 2015) and all comments are positive, indicating that fleets are in great shape (except for the driver issue). Individual comments included:
- “Always a demand for diesel/gasoline (energy company);”
- “Business is good;”
- “Customer commitments are encouraging;”
- “Economy—workload is increasing… lead times for equipment orders are growing;”
- “All good indicators;”
- “Freight is good, we need more drivers;”
- “Freight is strong, barring any major political events, I think we’re in for a good year;”
- “We have new business;”
- “Sales year-to-date are up 4%;”
- “The sun is shining, freight is strong, and everything is good.”
According to Kemmer, the three-month planned order activity (as reported during the second and third week in July) is definitely soft—few fleets and very low volume. July orders were strong, but Kemmer expects a slowing in August and maybe also September before fall purchase season begins.