Trucking analyst Martin Labbe, president of Martin Labbe Associates, recently presented his views on the future of trucking and answered questions in an exclusive Fleet Owner/About.com online chat cession. Topics ranged from when to expect economic recovery, to railroads and trucking, to doing away with the current warranty system.

Concerning recovery, Labbe was cautiously bullish. “The traffic volumes are down for manufactured goods, but not for consumer non-durables,” he noted. “The pipeline will start to fill again starting late in January and production will cause overall traffic to increase. Class 8 retail sales will start to increase by the end of the first quarter but will not get to 2000 levels until mid-2002.

“The downturn is different only for the Class 8 tractor market,” he added. “The consumer is out not only due to typical recession dynamics, but also due to September 11. I suspect September 11 will be with us for a while, but progress overseas is buoying consumer attitudes. Parts and sales will be down for Class 8, but should rebound for other classes.”

A complete transcript of the session is available online.