According to ACT Research’s recently released Transportation Digest, forecast stability this year has been driven by three factors:
1. Major positive momentum carried over from 2020;
2. The struggle of manufacturers to push production even higher in the face of record heavy organic truck demand; and
3. The benefit of vaccinations somewhat reversing the daunting upward climb in new COVID cases.
“Indicators we track for the economy, for freight, and for equipment utilization are about as good as we have ever seen, but recent data flows from the last six weeks or so suggest that the near continuous upward sweep of activity over the last few quarters may be beginning to level,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “To be clear: we are not forecasting a roller coaster descent from the top. Indeed, all you have to do is look at our forecast for the next two years—modest expansion, and basically sustained freight volumes at historically high levels.
“What we are saying is that the upward push of the heavy-duty market is in transition, from expansion to stability at high levels. The rate of change will get close to zero. Said another way, the market should bump along at a peak that over time should become a high plateau,” Vieth concluded.