Jonathan Starks, transportation analyst for FTR Associates, points to a small uptick in the medium-duty market in 2010, with Class 4-7 sales improving 10-15% this year to around 120,000 units from 105,000. Comparatively speaking, 2008 sales were at 165,000 units for the market.

Factored into this forecast is FTR's truck utilization figure, which is the “percentage of the market that is truly being utilized,” Starks says. That figure, according to FTR, is at 75% for the medium-duty market.

“You have a quarter of this market either idled, parked or underutilized, and that's a number we haven't seen since the very early '90s,” he says. “That will help keep sales of new vehicles down, although the utilization number could rebound to above 80%.”