Westlake Village, California – In the face of an industry-wide sales slump in the U.S., a new report by J.D. Power and Associates found that the percentage of heavy-duty truck owners who say they “definitely will” purchase or lease a new truck in the next 12 months has reached its lowest level since the 2002 study.

The study, which began tracking heavy-duty customer purchase intent in 2002, found that 25 per cent of Class 8 truck owners indicated that they will definitely purchase or lease a new truck in the next year, down from 41 per cent in 2006. Sales of these trucks has decreased considerably when compared with 2006, when sales were at historically high levels. While 63 per cent of owners surveyed in 2006 intended to add trucks to increase the size of their fleet inventory, only 54 per cent say they plan to do the same in 2008.

Sales spiked in 2006 as owners purchased trucks prior to the implementation of 2007 emissions standards; J.D. Power suggests that another “pre-buy” may occur prior to a new round of standards slated for 2010.

“The low rate of purchase intent among truck owners suggests that industry-wide sales may not experience a quick rebound,” said Brian Etchells, senior research manager of commercial vehicles practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Many factors, in addition to the pre-buy and new emission technology, could be playing a role in the current sales slump. With the poor economic climate and rising fuel costs, both owner-operators and fleets are struggling to stay profitable. Thus, it has never been more important for manufacturers to provide trucks that experience little to no downtime, have low maintenance and ownership costs, and provide the performance that drivers demand.”

In 2008, Kenworth ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the over-the-road segment for a fourth consecutive year, and in the vocational truck segment for a second consecutive year. Western Star closely followed Kenworth in the vocational truck rankings, while Freightliner improved considerably in the over-the-road segment to rank second. Among customer satisfaction with dealer service, Mack Trucks ranked highest, followed by Kenworth and Sterling.

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