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.