COLUMBUS, Ohio – A survey of truck buyers indicates some softening in the truck market.

The CK Commercial Vehicle Research Fleet Sentiment Survey for the first quarter found fewer trucks will be delivered to respondents than last year. Freight demand has softened from the second half of last year, the survey found.

It also found the driver shortage continues to negatively impact a majority of respondents. Most said that the ability to hire good, quality drivers is getting worse, and in some cases has prevented them from buying new trucks.

More fleets are spec’ing automated transmissions and air disc brakes. Parts purchasing practices are changing to adapt to the new environment, which involves certain parts shortages. And nearly every fleet complained about downtime and high maintenance costs related to diesel emissions aftertreatment systems. However, while most responding fleets said the market conditions are softening, most also maintained a healthy outlook for 2019.

“Because of some of the questions we asked in this survey regarding downtime and maintenance issues, it’s apparent that diesel engine technology, past and present, continues to negatively impact the productivity of trucking fleets,” said Chris Kemmer, consultant at CK Commercial Vehicle Research. “Clearly going back to dirtier emission engines is not an option, but to me, there should be a strong incentive to embrace electric trucks as an option to really address this issue.”