Though Class orders slipped in July on a year-over-year basis, they jumped by a double-digit percentage compared to June – a surprising increase that analysts attribute in part to the “confidence” by larger fleets in future growth of the North American freight market.
FTR Transportation Intelligence noted that its preliminary data indicates North American Class 8 truck net orders increased to 23,920 units in July, up 21% month-over-month, but down 19% versus last July.
Don Ake, FTR’s VP of commercial vehicles, said in a statement that orders “were much higher than expectations” as a few big fleets placed 2016 requirement orders early.
“This is a strong order number for July. Even though most of the market was subdued, the fact that some big fleets have the confidence to place huge orders right now is a great sign for the Class 8 market going forward,” he added. “Fleets are positive because freight markets continue to grow. We may see more of this early ordering trend the next
In a broader measure of commercial vehicle demand, ACT Research said its preliminary figures indicated Class 5 through 8 orders reached 39,400 units in July, up 10% from June but down 14% compared to last July.
“We continue to believe the recent order decline is a reflection of meaningfully larger backlogs and tough comps rather than any structural change in demand,” noted Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, in a statement.
“Class 8 orders were stronger than expected at 24,100 units [at] 19% above June orders,” he added, though those numbers are down 20% by ACT’s figuring compared to the same month in 2014.
“Seasonally adjusted, July’s net order volume rises to 28,900 units, the best order month on a seasonally adjusted basis since February,” Vieth pointed out.
Yet when Class 8 orders are removed from the mix, commercial vehicle demand overall “remained in the doldrums overall” for the second consecutive month, he said.
In terms of raw number, North American Class 5 through 7 vehicle orders dropped 1% month over month and 4% year over year to 15,300 units, Vieth noted.
“Some of this decline is attributable to seasonality,” he explained. “When seasonally adjusted, July’s medium duty orders rise to 17,600 units, up 4% from June.”