What recession? And what comes next?

What recession? And what comes next?

ACT Research's Kenny Vieth helps us make sense of this year's trucking market and what could be coming down the road in 2024.

This was the year that no one got it right. Ringing in 2023 felt like a countdown to a recession, but it never happened. Instead, the economy experienced significant growth, with the first half of the year seeing a 2% growth rate and the third quarter GDP climbing to 5.2%. That growth didn’t quite translate to the trucking sector as consumer spending shifted from goods to services–$1,600 for Taylor Swift tickets? Sold! It led to reduced freight demand and posed challenges for carriers, particularly those dependent on consumer goods transportation.

That’s according to Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst, ACT Research.

“We spent a couple of years sitting on our couches buying goods at Amazon, and we didn’t get to go to concerts, ball games or vacation for that matter. We took full advantage of that over the course of 2023,” Vieth noted, “much to the chagrin of carriers who were in the process of buying an awful lot of equipment.”

Sitting down for our annual trucking market review and next year outlook, he also pointed out that while the overall U.S. Class 8 tractor fleet grew by about 4%, major publicly traded truckload carriers saw their fleets shrink by a similar margin.

So, what’s going to happen next year? As all predictions go (and proved this year), there’s no certain answer, but Vieth is keeping a close eye on three potential market movers:

Mexican market: Under-served in recent years, the Mexican market is poised for heightened attention. This shift could redistribute market dynamics across North America.

Vocational market growth: The U.S. and Canadian vocational markets are expected to experience growth, driven by policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, which boosts commercial construction and manufacturing.

Continued economic growth: Despite challenges, the broader economy’s growth is expected to sustain, albeit at a potentially moderated pace compared to 2023.

Watch the video for all of Vieth’s trucking market insight.

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No script? No plan? No problem. Welcome to Fleet Equipment Unscripted—the video interview series that connects you with the greatest minds in the heavy-duty trucking world. Fleet Equipment Unscripted is sponsored by Hendrickson.

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