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Class 8 orders rise modestly in July, but exceed expectations

Aug. 3, 2023
Still running below replacement demand, both ACT Research and FTR Transportation Intelligence paint a picture of modest order levels but a normal midyear slowdown. Both data groups did say orders were way ahead of July 2022.

Preliminary data from two trucking industry data aggregators shows that orders for new Class 8 trucks in July behaved seasonally, meaning they were slow, but came in above analyst expectations.

ACT Research pointed out in an Aug. 3 release that, according to their data, orders for July were 16,000 units, or a seasonally 20,700, or 5.5% more than June but up big—45%—over orders in July 2022. FTR Transportation Intelligence, reporting in its own posting, had July 2023 orders come in above expectations at nearly 13,500 units, which FTR said was 8% below June but a “hefty” 25% above last July.

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ACT also added that net orders for medium-duty commercial vehicles, Classes 5-7, were 16,600, up 21% over last year but just 1% higher over last month.

“As represented by seasonal factors, this is the time of the year when expectations for orders are low,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, adding that “for both the MD Classes 5-7 and HD Class 8 markets, July is the traditional low-water mark for monthly order placements.

“That low expectation is reconfirmed this year as both MD and HD 2023 backlogs, as measured by BL/BU ratios, are essentially full,” Vieth added in the release. “In addition to already filled backlogs constraining order flows, 2024 order boards are not yet—or just barely—open, making the opportunity for bigger numbers elusive. All that said, July order activity was largely in line with or slightly above [year-to-date] trends.”

“Although above expectations, the absolute level of orders was weak,” FTR’s statement added “However, this is normal seasonal behavior due to a traditional midyear slowdown. Class 8 build remains strong, so this seasonal weakness in orders will continue the trend of shrinking backlogs.”

See also: Shipper environment ‘moderately favorable’ in May

Eric Starks, FTR's chairman, also commented, “We had expected net orders to fall below 10,000 units monthly several months ago as fleets wait for OEMs to open 2024 build slots, but that did not occur. Build slots are anticipated to open soon, so orders likely will not fall much further—if at all—in the near term. Build slots for 2023 are already filled, so it is unclear when these orders will be slotted, and the situation clearly will add pressure to increase production through the end of the year.”

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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