LOUISVILLE, KY. Joe McAleese, president & CEO of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, expects slow but steady growth in Class 8 sales for 2012, but nowhere near the levels experienced last year.

“In 2011 we witnessed a 100,000-unit increase in the Class 8 build rate – a 60% increase that never happened before and one that may never happen again,” he said here at a press conference during the 2012 Mid-America Trucking Show.

He instead expects Class 8 productionto increase by about 40,000 units this year; a far more modest 15% growth in build rates more commensurate with what McAleese believes will be U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.5 to 3% in 2012.

“We’re expecting moderate economic growth this year – a continuation of the [U.S. economic] recovery but one keeping to a slow pace,” he explained. That being said, McAleese noted freight volumes increased 5 to 6% last year and he thinks a similar increase in truck tonnage will occur in 2012 as well.

“Though we expect a much more moderate amount of economic growth, it’s enough to produce freight volume increases,” he said. “That will be critical to driving build rates and replacement part demand in the trucking industry.”