The Class 8 market continues to show some solid momentum as orders remain at good levels and production is starting to rise research firm FTR noted quotThis is a typical moderate market recoveryquot Photo Sean KilcarrFleet Owner

The Class 8 market continues to show some solid momentum as orders remain at good levels and production is starting to rise, research firm FTR noted: "This is a typical moderate market recovery." (Photo: Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)

Class 8 orders stay robust in April

However, medium-duty truck orders are “moderating” after hitting a nine-year high back in March, research firm says.

Orders for heavy-duty Class 8 trucks continued to remain steady and strong for the month of April, according to data compiled by ACT Research and FTR Transportation Intelligence, though orders for medium-duty units slowed down from earlier record-making levels.

Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, noted in a statement that Class 8 orders for the North American market remained on a “surprisingly robust trend” hitting 23,900 units in April – the fifth consecutive month in which Class 8 orders soared above the 20,000 unit mark.

“As this is typically the time of the year when orders begin to moderate, seasonal adjustment provides a small positive boost to the actual volume,” he said.

Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR, added that the Class 8 order “track” continues follow what he called a “sustained, normal pattern.” 

The key to this order cycle, he added, is that fleets did not place all their “big orders” in October and November. 

“They all didn’t jump into the pool at once,” Ake pointed out. “Some fleets did order at that time, but since then, fleets have placed orders in a more measured, steady fashion as they became more confident about 2017. There should be one more month of good orders before the traditional summer break.”

FTR pegged Class 8 net orders for April at 23,600 units, up 4% over March and up 77% versus April 2016. The firm added that the current Class 8 order rate over the past six months equates to annual production volume of 262,000 units.

“Fleets are expecting better freight conditions in the second half of the year and current order activity reflects that,” Ake pointed out. “Backlogs should increase in April, getting close to where they were a year ago.”  Meanwhile, on the medium-duty front, ACT’s Vieth said orders moderated in April, falling 25% from March and 10% compared to April 2016.

“As April tends to be a slightly above average order month, seasonal adjustment lowers the month’s net order volume, which falls to 18,200 units,” he noted.

“Taking the past two months’ orders together puts the total roughly in line with activity since December,” Vieth explained. “From December to February, medium duty orders averaged 22,500 units per month. In March and April, the average stands at 21,700 units."

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