The “fundamentals” that drive the trucking industry continue to improve, according to Kenny Vieth, partner and senior analyst with ACT Research Co., to the point that stage is being set for “significant demand” for new vehicles next year.

Vieth pointed out that the latest release of the ACT North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook, projects that “heavy-duty (Class 8) vehicle production will grow 14% year-over-year in 2010 before ramping up significantly to 72% growth in 2011.”

He added that medium-duty vehicle (Classes 5-7) production, which he said is largely tied to the health of the housing and construction industries, is forecast to experience a “more steady and gradual increase in production, growing 19% in 2010 and 32% in 2011.

However, Vieth cautioned that on the road to next year, trucking must still ride out the bump to be caused by the inevitable switch-over to EPA 2010-compliant diesel engines.

“While improving trends in trucking are a key component of improving commercial vehicle demand, the transition to new EPA2010 engines will impact the timing of new order and production ramp-ups,” said Vieth,

“With production of trucks with pre-mandate engines continuing into the second quarter,” he continued, “we now project the trough for heavy-duty truck build will occur in the third quarter before picking up in the fourth quarter of 2010.”

The positive yet realistic sales outlook presented by ACT is perhaps even more welcome by trucking today given the contrast between it and this morning’s business news headlines. Reports there were dominated by word that the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee had decided it could not declare an end to the recession that began in December ’07—at least not yet. However, it should be noted that despite even reports of higher truck sales in March, other analysts are not as optimistic about how far along trucking stands on the road to recovery.