Class 8 sales nose-dive

Class 8 sales nose-dive

Preliminary data shows that Class 8 orders continued their significant slump in January, with total net orders for all major North American OEMs at 7,608 units, down 12% from December 2008, according to numbers compiled by FTR Associates

Preliminary data shows that Class 8 orders continued their significant slump in January, with total net orders for all major North American OEMs at 7,608 units, down 12% from December 2008, according to numbers compiled by FTR Associates.

January 2009 Class 8 vehicle net order activity was 66% lower than January 2008, FTR reported, equaling an annualized rate of 91,296 units, a significant shortfall compared to 2008. Those numbers include Class 8 orders in U.S., Canada, and Mexico, as well as exports, showing that January 2009 was the weakest month for Class 8 sales in the 30 years since data was first recorded, FTR noted.

FTR president Eric Starks told FleetOwner that these preliminary figures indicate that his company’s “worst case” scenario for Class 8 orders in 2009 now has more potential than previously thought.

In an economic outlook released last week, Starks said that under FTR’s worst case scenario, Class 8 orders could reach an annualized rate of 95,000 in 2009. Orders in the fourth quarter last year dropped to an annualized rate of 119,000 Class 8 vehicles, declining to a rate of 104,000 in December alone.

“The numbers we’re seeing are pretty consistent with that scenario,” Starks said. “Most OEMs started putting contingency plans in place last year if such a situation occurred. As much as they wanted to think this would not happen, it’s happening, so now I think you’ll begin to see more permanent layoffs and closing of production lines.”

The global nature of the economic downturn is also making the situation even tougher in some respects, Starks said. “The global footprint of most truck OEMs used to help in the past. While sales would be down in one region of the world, they’d be up in another – offsetting each other,” he noted. “Today, though, every region is tanking.”

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