According to ACT Research Co. (ACT), several freight transportation and commercial vehicle market factors are “aligning and setting the stage for continued improvement in demand for heavy-duty vehicles in the second half of 2010 and into 2011. ACT said this is enabling freight rates to rise.

In the latest release of its North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook, ACT projects full-year production of heavy-duty (Class 8) vehicles will be up 26% over 2009. But its forecast for medium-duty vehicle (Class 5-7) production remains at 12% year-over-year as the housing and construction sectors continue to struggle to regain ground.

“Key building blocks to support improved demand for heavy-duty commercial vehicles are coming into alignment,” said Kenny Vieth, senior analyst and partner with ACT Research. “On the transportation side, all major freight indicators are solidly positive, which has allowed truckload hauling capacity to tighten rapidly. This in turn is allowing freight rates to rise and sets the stage for materially stronger trucker profits. And with used truck values steadily rising, trucking companies are now in a good position to replace an aged fleet,” he added.