GARLAND, TX— For an indication of just how strong truck sales are right now, all one has to do is take a quick look inside International Truck & Engine Corp.’s main truck plant here.

From a build rate of just 25 to 30 trucks a day last year, output has zoomed to between 110 to 120 units a day. And that’s for all types of trucks, not just over-the-road tractors, Bill Sixsmith, marketing director for International’s severe service products, told Fleet Owner during a press tour.

“We’re building all kinds of trucks here at Garland – demand is heavy for everything,” he said. “Predominantly, though, we are building more 5000 and 7000 Series vehicles here than anything else right now – a lot of tandem dump trucks, a lot of all-wheel drive vehicles for off-road oilfield and utility work, and a lot of government and municipal trucks as well.”

Most of the trucks being ordered are replacement vehicles, Sixsmith added – vehicles intended to replace equipment many fleets held onto for longer than usual due to the the long economic drought or to push off dealing with new low-emission engines introduced 2002.

Bruce Ewald, assistant general manager-sales and marketing for Peterbilt Motors Co., agreed, speaking to Fleet Owner at Peterbilt’s headquarters in nearby Denton, TX.

“Two things that are driving this are higher freight volume and the need to replace older equipment,” he explained. “Because many fleets delayed buying trucks because they wanted to avoid the ’02 engines, they now have a lot of older units they need to replace. There are about a million trucks out on the road in the three- to seven-year age category – and it’s in that timeframe when trucks become much more expensive to maintain.”

Rising freight volumes are accelerating that equipment-buying trend as well. “The freight is out there and needs capacity,” Ewald said. “That’s why buying is so widespread – big fleets, small fleets, vocational fleets, even owner-operators – everyone is out there buying trucks now.”