ACT Research: Truck order strength still relative

In the newest release of its State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles report, ACT Research Co. (ACT) cautions that the latest rise in net orders for trucks must be weighed against the poor figures turned in for 2009 overall

In the newest release of its Stateof the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles report, ACT Research Co. (ACT) cautions that the latest rise in net orders for trucks must be weighed against the poor figures turned in for 2009 overall.

According to ACT, net orders for heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicles climbed to 11,285 units last month, or 28% higher than March 2009. But that figure comes off a “very weak” 2009 sales period. The firm did allow that while expectations for orders during the first quarter were low due to the implementation of the EPA 2010 emissions mandate, the last two months have been stronger than anticipated. Medium-duty Class 5-7 net orders also grew by 20% from March 2009.

Still, said Kenny Vieth, partner and senior analyst with ACT, the “combination of the introduction of higher-priced new engine technology and a weak used truck market continue to restrain demand for new commercial vehicles.

“However,” he continued, “an improving economy is shrinking the excess hauling capacity in the trucking sector, which will lead to improving profits and the need to replace an aging fleet” eventually.

Vieth had noted in ACT’s report issued last week that “with production of trucks with pre-mandate engines continuing into the second quarter, we project the trough for heavy-duty truck build will occur in the third quarter before picking up in the fourth quarter of 2010.”

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