Data compiled by economic research firm FTR Associates indicates that commercial truck sales for both the heavy- and medium-duty segments are beginning to stabilize, albeit at historically low levels. The million-dollar question, said FTR president Eric Starks, is when will sales start to pick up again?

“We're paying very close attention to the orders and sales numbers, because we could be at this bottom for a while,” Starks told Fleet Owner. “But for now, order activity and sales are stabilizing both for Class 8 and medium-duty [segments]. We expect orders and sales to stay flat from the second through the third quarter, though there may be a [truck] production dip in the third quarter as OEMs shut plants down for vacation time.”

As a result, FTR's Class 8 truck production forecast for 2009 remains unchanged; the firm still expects Class 8 production to finish the year 47% below 2008 levels. It also projects a slow recovery to begin in 2010 that will regain some of the ground lost this year; however, 2010 production is still anticipated to be about 30% below 2008 levels, FTR said.