The North American trucking industry has been resolute in its mission to deliver critical freight to those who need it while much of the economy is shut down, but no sector is immune to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fear of spreading COVID-19 to coworkers, along with drastically diminished demand — JP Morgan predicted a 53% year-over year drop in Class 8 builds, from 260,000 to 162,000. FTR projected even lower sales (155,000) and said that the economy won’t rebound until Q4. The ramifications on trucking will range from decreased restocking demand to difficulty hiring drivers.
The OEMs are doing what they can to triage the situation. Many are heading into their third or fourth week of production stand down to minimize spreading the virus among coworkers while also preparing for far lower sales number than the past two years.
To that end, OEM financial arms are also offering favorable terms on new trucks.
Here is list of how each OEM has responded [this list will be routinely updated]:
Daimler Trucks North America
As of March 25, DTNA’s Western Star plant in Portland, Ore., has been shuttered, and won’t open until at least April 20. Production at facilities in North and South Carolina, as well as Mexico, have also been limited.
The Redford, Mich., plant where Detroit powertrains are made was also temporarily closed after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement, DTNA said: “There will be limited operations at each plant location during this period, as we will continue to provide full support of our aftermarket operations to ensure our parts distribution centers continue to run smoothly and fulfill their crucial role helping to keep critical infrastructure running.”
Daimler Truck Financial is offering qualified buyers up to 120 days to make their first payment, vocational-specific finance alternatives and custom finance packages including retail loans, seasonal and skip payments, multiple lease options and flexible payment terms.
The Parkersburg, W.Va., assembly plant, which represents a $60 million investment with an additional $40 million planned, closed on March 23.
“Unfortunately, the situation is quite fluid, so we will continue to monitor and assess the situation and make any adjustment to our schedule accordingly,” said Davey Jung, Hino executive vice president.
Supply chain disruptions caused the Springfield, Ohio, plant to halt production on March 23. Production is expected to resume April 27. Huntsville, Ala., and the truck assembly plant in Escobedo, Mexico, are also closed for now and expected to reopen April 13.
In a statement, Navistar said it “recognizes the essential role of the commercial vehicle industry in support of the transportation infrastructure and remains dedicated to providing quality service and support to customers to keep critical goods moving during this uncertain time. The IC Bus Manufacturing Plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and all Navistar service facilities and parts distribution centers are currently continuing regular operations.”
The OEM also launched International Cares, a collection of financing and aftersales programs, which includes deferred payments for six months (available through May 31), along with free access to the 360 digital fleet management tool to all new customers until Oct. 1.
“Whether they are on the front lines of this fight or not, our customers are facing many unforeseen challenges during this crisis,” said Michael Cancelliere, president, Truck, Navistar. “International Cares is our way of saying thank you to those keeping the world moving forward and helping our customers to keep going strong.”
On March 24, Peterbilt and Kenworth stopped productions at plants around the world. The plan was to potentially re-open April 6, but that has been extended by to weeks. Aftermarket support is still being conducted.
“PACCAR’s excellent balance sheet, experienced leadership team and outstanding employees will contribute to the company successfully managing through this difficult period,” said CEO Preston Feight.
Both Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks North America suspended production on March 19.
Mack Financial Service (MFS) and Volvo Financial Service (VFS) both have enhanced the benefits for buying or leasing during this uncertain time.
MFS is offering four programs, including: 60 days deferment on Mack Anthem and Pinnacle day cab models, another for sleeper models of the Class 8 trucks, 90 days for Granite purchases, and 90 days for LR or TerraPro refuse trucks.
The VFS “Hammer Down 2.0” program allows qualified buyers to wait 60 days after purchase to make the first payment on 2020 or 2019 Volvo VNL, VNR, and VNX models, and 90 days for VHD models in dealer stock inventory.
“Volvo Trucks support operations continue to run as normal and we are maintaining all service, parts and uptime operations because we know they are mission critical for your business,” VTNA President Peter Voorhoeve wrote in a letter.