The issues that defined 2021 – supply chain difficulties, Covid, inflation, high energy prices, robust freight and rates – are likely to continue to be the dominant issues of 2022.
That’s according to industry analyst ACT Research.
“Class 8 demand remains strong, but the ability of manufacturers to respond to that demand continues to be constrained,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “Higher prices are the inevitable result, and that will remain the case through much of 2022. We believe these conditions will gradually be alleviated, but risks will be higher than usual for a wide set of possible outcomes around our base case. Freight market equilibrium, the supply-demand balance between equipment and drivers and freight volumes, probably won’t be achieved until the fourth quarter of next year.”
Vieth said the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant is the biggest risk.
“The single most important new development impacting, and adding risk to, the near-term heavy-duty forecast has been the global spread of the new Covid Omicron variant. As important as the disease itself is the reaction of civil authorities and the public-at-large to Omicron – as well as to future variants that may crop up in 2022 and beyond,” Vieth said.
“We can hope that lessons learned from the experience of the last two years would at least aid with directional guidance, on a macro and micro basis. For our forecasts, one lesson is that demand for goods holds up fairly well during a pandemic compared to services, especially if those services are public-facing. Sectors closely associated with activity in goods production and distribution (manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, wholesale and retail) are transportation-intensive, and generally trucking-intensive. So by its very nature, demand for heavy trucks has a natural, in-built Covid immunity.”