Medium- and heavy-duty truck sales grew 35.2% on a daily-rate basis in February to 29,207 vehicles, vs. like-2003 volumes of 21,601.

This is the largest year-on-year percentage increase yet in the recent big-truck growth spurt. The previous record was set in December 2003, with a 33.7% year-over-year sales increase. (See related data: February 2004 U.S. GVW Sales)

Big truck sales in the U.S. were up 35% in February.

Class 8 deliveries led the surge, up 48.4% to 12,035 units, with all major truck makers seeing double-digit increases. PACCAR Inc. sales rose 65.8% while AB Volvo (61.9%) International Truck and Engine Corp. (44.4%) and Freightliner Corp. (36.8%) also posted healthy increases.

Medium-duty (Class 4-7) sales rose 27.3% to 17,172 units from last year’s 13,489. Class 6 sales saw the largest increase, 43.6%, to 5,882 units from 4,097 in like-2003. Class 7 sales of 5,527 units represented 15.1% growth. Classes 6 and 7 segment leader International sold 2,621 Class 6 trucks, up 41.6%, and 2,514 Class 7s, up 29.8%.

Class 5 and Class 4 deliveries also saw double-digit increases, of 34.9% (2,452 units) and 19.4% (3,311 units), respectively.

Inventory of heavy-duty trucks ended the month at 27,003 units, for a 54 days’ supply, a reduction from year-ago’s 24,845, or 74 days. Medium-duty trucks ended February at 50,591 units (71 days’ supply) vs. 47,729 year-ago (85 days).

In other big truck news:

  • Modine Mfg. Co. is awarded a powertrain cooling-systems contract with International Truck and Engine Corp. beginning in 2007. The deal includes International heavy, medium and Blue Diamond trucks. Components used in the powertrain cooling-systems contract are made at Modine factories in McHenry, IL; Trenton, MO; Lawrenceburg, TN, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

  • International Truck and Engine Corp. and the U.S. Army unveil two concept vehicles at the Society of Automotive Engineers show in Detroit – the SmarTruck III and a new International commercial utility vehicle – built off an International 4-wheel-drive medium-duty truck platform. SmarTruck III, a collaboration of the U.S. Army’s National Automotive Center and International, offers the military advanced communications and detection systems and improved fuel economy as well as increased armor protection. International says the commercial utility vehicle’s potential customers include the U.S. Border Patrol, the Dept. of Homeland Security and the construction industry. The concepts feature International’s VT275 4.5L V-6 diesel engine.

  • Navistar International Corp., the producer of International trucks and diesel engines, reports a first quarter loss for the 3-month period ended Jan. 31 of $23 million, or $0.34 per share, compared with a loss of $99 million, or $1.49 per share year-ago. Revenues totaled $1.9 billion, compared with year-ago’s $1.6 billion.

  • Renault V.I. and labor unions representing employees of the company tentatively agree to a new contract. The deal includes a minimum cost-of-living increase of 1% annually for two years. If the inflation rate is 2.7% or more in 2004, the management and the unions will meet again. The contract also includes a 35-hour workweek, 1.2% pay raise, bonuses and expenses for career-skills training.

  • AB Volvo says it has received an order for the delivery of 225 trucks to B&Q, a unit of the U.K.’s biggest home improvements retailer Kingfisher. The value of the deal is not disclosed. Volvo says deliveries of the trucks already have begun and will continue until May 2005.