U.S. sales of Class 8 trucks in May rose 1.4 percent to 13,906 units, the first segment gain since March 2000.
The unit total is still more than 40 percent less than the 23,562 Class 8s sold in March 2000.
May sales likely were affected by fleet owners buying trucks before Oct. 1, when heavy-duty diesel engine makers must start shipping engines that meet stricter emissions standards, said Bill Leasure, president of the Truck Manufacturers Association in Washington. Fleet owners are concerned about the expected cost increase and reliability associated with trucks that have the new engines, he said.
In May, Kenworth, owned by Paccar Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., posted the largest gain compared with the year-ago month, with sales rising 43.9 percent to 1,837 units.
Class 8 sales for the first five months of the year were down 11.9 percent.
Freightliner, owned by DaimlerChrysler, was up 7.2 percent to 4,331 Class 8 units. International's Class 8 sales increased 4.6 percent to 2,099 units.
Among companies posting declines in were DaimlerChrysler-owned Western Star and Sterling. Western Star fell 34.5 percent to 97 units. Sterling dropped 27.4 percent to 731 units.
"You're probably going to see increases from now until October," Leasure said. "I think the fourth quarter will be down significantly."