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Despite slowdown in orders, Volvo's Mack brand says market remains 'hot'

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Neil Abt, Fleet Owner  /  July 15, 2019

The Class 8 truck market remains “hot” and there are no indications of a significant downturn on the horizon despite a slowdown in orders this summer, according to Jonathan Randall, senior vice president of North American sales and marketing for Swedish truckmaker Volvo's Mack Trucks subsidiary.

Randall made the remarks last week during media trip showcasing Mack’s growing footprint in the western United States. Volvo is still projecting 310,000 North American truck deliveries industry-wide for all of 2019, with replacement orders of sleeper models driving the growth.

Orders have fallen but that was expected as "you can’t continue to fill an already fuel cup," said Randall, adding that some observers are “trying to talk themselves into a downturn.”

Randall noted order cancellations remain low, a sign that fears of any significant slowdown are overblown. There is still a solid backlog to work from and production remains steady, he said.

That includes initial orders for 2020 delivery, which are off to a strong start. Randall said Mack was seeing higher sales in nearly all segments in 2019, and there continues to be growing orders for its integrated powertrain.

Separately, one industry analyst said in a report the current Class 8 build rates may suggest upside to the 2019 forecast, but “erring on the side of caution remains the right call.”

He said Class 8 market activity “is rapidly approaching the precipice, and everyone should be preparing for a rapid downward correction in production levels in the next handful of months."

During a recent Cowen conference call, an executive with a small fleet said truck manufacturers have been approaching him about ordering, which he called a sharp contrast from the overheated market a year ago.

Other fleet representatives said orders for 2019 were mainly replacement vehicles, and that they were not in a rush to begin order negotiations because pricing could ease later this year.

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Volvo’s Mack exec not concerned about slowing truck demand

James Menzies, Truck News  /  July 10, 2019

SEATTLE, Wash. – Class 8 truck orders have fallen sharply in recent months, but the folks at Volvo Group subsidiary Mack Trucks aren’t sweating.

“I almost get the sense people are standing on the ledge, looking over and trying to talk themselves into a downturn,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack senior vice-president of North American sales and marketing. “We’re not seeing it. We’re not feeling it.”

He characterized the current truck market as “hot,” despite lower orders in the first months of 2019.

“The orders have fallen off significantly, but that’s expected,” he told the trucking industry press during an event here. “We can’t continue to fill an already full cup. The torrid pace we were accepting orders at six or seven months ago couldn’t continue. We knew that. That order intake dip is fully expected.”

The good news, however, is that interest for new units remains high. There remains in place a solid backlog, and production is steady. There are also few cancellations happening.

“Our orderbook is firm, solid and strong,” said Randall.

Mack is sticking to its previously stated projections of a 310,000-unit Class 8 market this year for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Most of the demand is coming from the longhaul segment, where new truck registrations climbed from 44% in 2018 to 50% so far this year. Mack is well positioned to take advantage with its new Anthem highway tractor, Randall said.

“The Anthem is getting us into more and more fleets,” he explained.

Mack recently opened its orderbook for 2020 and demand is strong, Randall noted.

“Demand is there because fleets are now starting to plan next year’s purchases,” he said. “The limiting factor seems to be people. Customers are saying ‘I’ll order 50, but I’d order another 20 tomorrow if I could hire another 20 drivers’.”

With the Anthem, Mack is looking to strengthen its presence in the west, where big block engines and high horsepower are still highly sought after. Randall said Mack is aiming to educate fleets on the capabilities of its 13-liter engines.

“A 13-liter is economically able to pull the majority of what needs to be pulled across the country,” he said, adding Mack has no plans to begin offering a 15-liter engine.

Kevin McCann, operations manager with aggregate hauler Silver Streak Trucking, reaffirmed the capabilities of a 13L engine in the western market.

“We actually outpulled a 600-hp Cummins with a 505-hp Mack,” he said of one of the company’s Mack Granites. “We made it back to the gravel pit and the comment over the CB was ‘My gosh, what kinda power do you have in that truck?’ It had to do with the truck, the operator, and the automatic transmission. We’re being noticed out there. There’s a lot of attention to what we’re doing and what we’re creating out here.”

While the Anthem is getting Mack back into the linehaul segment in a meaningful way, Randall said the truckmaker’s goals in that segment are “modest.”

“We know we are not going to be the number one player in that category, but we need to have a strong linehaul business because that’s half the market,” he said. “We expect to see strong growth.”

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“We actually outpulled a 600-hp Cummins with a 505-hp Mack,”     I think he meant we out geared the truck with a 600 cummins.  A 600 cummins has 2050ftlbs of TQ where a Mack 505 only has 1860ft lbs.   them automatics are fast but I dont see a 505 mack out pulling a 600 cummins on a long steady grade. I will believe it when I see it....

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Posted (edited)

Tell it like it is Mackattack. There are very few 505's in the trailer dump and heavy haul markets as far as I can see. The Boston area may be an exception.

Edited by james j neiweem

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5 hours ago, james j neiweem said:

Tell it like it is Mackattack. There are very few 505's in the trailer dump and heavy haul markets as far as I can see. The Boston area may be an exception.

Canada has lots of them. 

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Maybe my area is different but we get tons and tons of Canadian trucks through my area daily and I have yet to see a Mack. I bet 80% or better are Pete’s and KW’s with a big bore of some sort. 

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I still see quite a few newer macks in new england and new york state . In NY state you can gross 117k legally with quad axle trailer, ive seen quite a few pinnacles with mp8 pulling quad axle dump trailers in the upstate albany area

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I have said this before there are a lot of Mack's (505) in Michigan at 154,000 GVW. See them everyday and a lot of them. What I think would help Mack is a Granite with a Cat C15. Construction people here want Cat engines. Volvo will never do it, but if Cat would get back in truck engines it would sell big in a Mack. There are a lot CL753 and even RW753 still running here. 

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I'm next to South Dakota where GCW is only limited by bridge formula B and how many axles you can fit into the 81.5' maximum trailers length. Thus we see 146K or so 13 axle grain hopper doubles and 170k 17 axle side dump doubles and even a couple 20 axle side dump doubles at 190k or so. I rarely see a Mack pulling the 13 axle doubles and haven't seen a Mack pulling the 17 axle doubles in years. Paccar pretty much has this market to themselves with the odd Daimler product.

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1 hour ago, Maxidyne said:

I'm next to South Dakota where GCW is only limited by bridge formula B and how many axles you can fit into the 81.5' maximum trailers length. Thus we see 146K or so 13 axle grain hopper doubles and 170k 17 axle side dump doubles and even a couple 20 axle side dump doubles at 190k or so. I rarely see a Mack pulling the 13 axle doubles and haven't seen a Mack pulling the 17 axle doubles in years. Paccar pretty much has this market to themselves with the odd Daimler product.

Is it really worth having all those axles and tires to maintain ? I run in alot of miles in Upstate NY and can weigh 107k  on just 6 axles and its alot of maintenance .never mind the fuel mileage must be awful at that weight 

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4 hours ago, 41180 said:

Is it really worth having all those axles and tires to maintain ? I run in alot of miles in Upstate NY and can weigh 107k  on just 6 axles and its alot of maintenance .never mind the fuel mileage must be awful at that weight 

I suspect the 13 axle doubles with 4 tridems are the practical limit, beyond that you only gain about 6k pounds per axle. That said, the axle loads are so light that the trailer and dolly axles can often be "singled out" for some weight and tire wear savings. But few take advantage of such technology, if fact the 20 axle combinations are pretty crude and none too professionally operated.

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Maxidyne: Were there many Titans sold in the upper mid west for dual trailer operations? Titans should have been competative there as well as western logging and eastern coal.

Not to mention lowboy service. There was an argument that Titans were over  priced at 150,000 dollars or so. I would guess since Paccar has the market  sowed up that they could charge what ever they want now.

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I haven't seen any Titans pulling doubles, seems like most of the few that were sold pulled lowboys. The lack of a sleeper cab option really hurt the Titan out here.

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