The nation's top economists predict that 2005 will be as good as, or slightly better than, 2004, according to the National Truck Equipment Association.

The NTEA says that 50 top economists surveyed by BusinessWeek magazine (Dec. 26, 2004 issue) concur that real gross domestic product (GDP) and corporate profits will grow 3.5% and 6.7% respectively, and inflation will remain in check at 2.2%. But watch out for wild cards that could dampen those spirits. Rising oil prices, the declining U.S. dollar, renewal of inflation fears and a tapped-out U.S. consumer could pose problems.

Riding the coattails of a fairly strong economy, the commercial truck and transportation equipment industry is poised for growth in 2005. Economists that spoke at the NTEA Economic Outlook Conference in September provided a positive assessment of the coming year, and so far, nothing has cast doubt on their predictions.

Eli Lustgarten, analyst for J. B. Hanauer and Co. (Parsippany, NJ) predicted medium-duty truck sales would increase nearly 20% in 2005, due largely to capital spending increases. He estimated that Class 8 truck sales would continue to increase nicely for the next two years.

Also, Ken Kremar, principal of Global Insight's Industry Forecast Practices Group (Eddystone, PA) echoed those positive predictions, stating that the U.S. commercial vehicle market had turned the corner, and orders for new equipment showed considerable strength.

Additionally, he expects that light, medium and heavy commercial truck sales in the U.S would increase for the next two years.