Orders are relatively weak noted Starks down at the lowest levels seen since 2012 yet the industry still remains in quotreplacement modequot Photo by Sean KilcarrFleet Owner

Orders are relatively weak, noted Starks; down at the lowest levels seen since 2012, yet the industry still remains in "replacement mode." (Photo by Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner)

Truck orders, sales in adjustment period

They've "taken a bit of a hit" so far in 2016, says FTR's Starks.

LOUISVILLE, KY. After a robust showing in 2015, truck orders and sales have taken a bit of a hit so far in 2016. Eric Starks, president of FTR Transportation Intelligence, told attendees at the Fleet Forum on Wednesday at the Kentucky Exposition Center ahead of the Mid-America Trucking Show, that the dip is not too concerning at the moment.

“[Orders] are relatively weak,” he said. “They have been down at the lowest levels we’ve seen since 2012, but we are still in replacement [mode].”

Preliminary data showed February 2016 North American Class 8 truck net orders holding steady at 17,650 units, FTR reported, down 2% month over month and 43% year over year. Orders have averaged 21,000 units the last three months and the same average over the last 12 months. Total orders over the last 12 months have been 254,000, close to the FTR 2016 build forecast, the firm said.

With orders dropping, several OEMs announced workforce reductions in the past few months. That has resulted in a reduction in the build activity, Starks said, although he said backlogs are “still relatively healthy.”

“Fleets that want trucks, can get trucks,” he said. Right now, that backlog is about 70,000 units, up from 50,000 about a year ago.

Starks noted that the decline in production is part of an “adjustment level as OEMs get inventories in line.”

“This backlog right now is somewhat elongated relative to what we’ve seen in the past,” Starks said.

On the flip side, though, are retail sales, which have remained solid. “It’s right in line with what we’ve seen [historically],” Starks said, at about 17,000 to 18,000 units in both January and February.

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