WASHINGTON – Compared to recent years, 2009 was a year of heavy depreciation for the highway sleeper market, according to a report prepared by the ATD/NADA Official Commercial Truck Guide. However, given the economic conditions the industry faced, the market performed better than might have been expected, says Chris Visser, editor of the guide. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that an extremely active export market helped keep the domestic supply of used trucks at a realistic level, which counteracted reduced demand," Visser says.

In general, mileage was the determining factor in a used Class 8 truck’s value throughout 2009. Regardless of model year, trucks with less than 500,000 miles retained a moderately good percentage of their value, Visser says. "Trucks with less than 300,000 miles performed quite well in the marketplace," he says. Higher-mileage trucks fared a bit worse, but since those trucks had already absorbed the bulk of their depreciation, the actual month-over-month dollar decline was proportionally smaller.

Medium-duty trucks lost a substantial portion of their value throughout 2009, Visser says. Mileage was not as critical a factor as with the Class 8 market, however. "Most segments of the market saw their heaviest depreciation in the beginning of the year, then appeared to find a bottom sometime in the 3rd quarter," Visser says. In fact, the guide made upward adjustments to selected trucks in the 4th quarter, due to lighter-than-expected depreciation.