DETROIT -- U.S. sales of new medium- and heavy-duty trucks edged up 1 percent in September to 20,300, as strong sales of Class 8 and 5 trucks kept alive a nine-month streak of increases.
Through September, truck sales rose 9 percent to 179,545. Sales have rebounded this year after falling each month for 35 straight months before that.
In September, Class 8 trucks, the largest-size category, rose 21 percent to 9,402. Class 8 sales have risen by double digits in seven of the past eight months.
Class 5 trucks jumped 42 percent to 2,574.
But Class 4 vehicles, the smallest-size category, fell 42 percent to 2,897. In the middle segments, Class 6 trucks rose 8 percent to 2,165, but Class 7s dropped 5 percent to 3,262.
Ford Motor Co. led all manufacturers in September with sales of 5,000, despite a 4 percent drop from a year earlier. Freightliner sales climbed 34 percent to 4,736, reflecting a heavier concentration of Class 8 sales than Ford. International fell 4 percent to 4,321. No other truckmaker’s sales topped 2,000.
At a recent investors’ conference, executives from commercial-truck parts supplier ArvinMeritor Inc. argued that strong sales of the largest trucks in September showed that the sales recovery is for real.
The company has cited better freight tonnage, truck utilization rates, truckload rates and used-truck prices to bolster its case. Shelly Lombard, senior high-yield analyst at Gimme Credit, raised her rating on the supplier’s bonds to outperform, even though she noted concern that sales reflect buying ahead of tighter emissions standards later this year.