Demand is soaring for used trucks as the pandemic e-commerce boom keeps fleets busier than ever moving freight to feed consumer sales, and that tight market has driven prices for used truck tractors up nearly one-third higher than their sales prices last year.
That hot demand has combined with a short supply of new vehicles, since supply chain kinks are restricting the ability of manufacturers to make as many units as they usually do at this time of year.
As a result, that lack of inventory is creating soaring prices amid a shortage of trucks. Preliminary used Class 8 volumes (same dealer sales) in June dropped 6% month-over-month and 12% year over year, according to the latest preliminary release of the “State of the Industry: U.S. Classes 3-8 Used Trucks” from the industry analyst firm ACT Research.
“For the first time since we started following the used truck market almost 20 years ago, the average price of 3-year-old trucks with 300-400,000 miles on them broke the six-figure barrier. The feat is made even more impressive when one considers prices for these late model trucks started the year at just over $70,000,” ACT Vice President Steve Tam said in a release. “Arguably, the trucks did not change to justify the increase in price. Rather, the simple law of supply and demand has created a scarcity situation, and there is no viable substitute to the venerable Class 8 truck. Hence, prices are through the roof, with no relief in sight.”
The truck marketplace firm Ritchie Bros. has seen a similar pattern, noting that truck tractor prices in the U.S. are up 30% year over year, while medium earthmoving and vocational truck prices are each up 25%. U.S. sales are particularly hot for six-year-old trucks (2015 models) and Canadian demand is highest for four-year-old models (2017 models), the company said.
By another measure, Ritchie Bros. said that one of the most popular models in the category of tandem-axle truck tractor sales among four-to-seven-year old models is the Freightliner Cascadia. And the median price for Cascadias was more than 45% higher in the first half of 2021 than that period in 2020, even through those 2014 – 2017 truck models were a year older and had higher usage.
"Online shopping continues to drive an extremely hot transportation market right now, with record high truck prices," Doug Olive, senior vice president at Ritchie Bros., said in a release. "But it's not just transportation. We are seeing pricing strength across the board as this seller's market continues."