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Both major commercial vehicle data collection agencies — ACT Research and FTR — say that preliminary orders for Class 8 trucks in North America fell to the mid 30,000 range in April.
“In ACT’s 30-plus years of collecting industry statistics, the Class 8 market has never had four consecutive months in which orders exceeded 40,000 units,” said Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst. “Preliminary data indicate that the wall remains in place as 34,800 Class 8 net orders were booked in April, stopping the latest string of 40,000-plus order months at three.” Seasonal adjustment boosts the month’s orders to 35,200 units, Vieth said.
“To put the April results into perspective, while we saw a nearly 12,000-unit drop from March to 34,700 units in April, the figure is still above the average month for the fourth quarter of last year. This remains a very elevated market,” said Jonathan Starks, FTR chief intelligence officer. “These order levels will continue to put pressure on the OEMs and suppliers to increase production and output. The market will stay red-hot into 2019. The question remains: How hot can they run?”
Demand for trucks remains at record levels and fleets are still attempting to add capacity as fast as possible in this market, Starks said, adding that North American Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have now totaled 368,000 units.
Veith said preliminary North America Classes 5-8 net order data show the industry booked 59,600 units in 2018’s fourth month.
Vieth said after the order results posted in the seasonally strong first quarter, there was only one direction for orders to head in April — down. While below any of the first three months of 2018, a goodly portion of the decline was related to seasonality.
“On that basis, April’s orders (60,000) were bigger than any month in 2017 as activity in both the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle markets remained strong,” Vieth said. “Our preliminary look at North American Classes 5-8 net orders for April show that orders rose 40 percent year-over-year. Seasonally adjusted, April’s orders fell 12 percent from March.”
Vieth said solid medium-duty order activity continued into April, if below levels seen through the first quarter.
In April, preliminary North American Classes 5-7 net orders rose 33 percent year-over-year to 24,800 units.
“There is virtually no seasonality in April for the medium-duty market,” Vieth said. “As a result, and while orders were down 16 percent nominally from March, on a seasonally adjusted basis, Classes 5-7 orders were 24,900 units, up 200 units/0.8 percent month over month.”