Further evidence that it's tough for independent truckers to make a buck these days can be found in the latest quarterly numbers from Nassau Asset Management. The Westbury, N.Y.-based firm reports that repossessions and liquidations of tractor-trailers rose nearly 8 percent in 2006 over 2005 figures. Edward Castagna, president of Nassau, which provides collection, repossession, and remarketing services to the leasing and finance industry, doesn't expect things to improve anytime soon. "Current conditions indicate [truck repossessions] will continue to rise," he says. "Fuel prices are lower than during the spikes in 2005, but still highly unstable. The drop in new home construction is also hurting portions of the transportation sector."
The Nassau report also shows that demand for used tractor-trailers is up. "We feel the market should remain strong this year and possibly into 2008," says Castagna. Interest in used trucks has been sparked by buyers' reluctance to purchase the 2007 trucks that are starting to roll off assembly lines, he adds. The new trucks are the first that must comply with the new Environmental Protection Agency diesel engine regulations. Some buyers are avoiding them out of concern that their engines are unproven and will be costly to maintain.