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Truck orders remained robust in February

March 6, 2018
Initial data indicates that February was the third strongest month for overall truck orders since March of 2006.

Both heavy- and medium-duty truck orders continued rolling strongly forward in February, with preliminary data tracked by ACT Research and FTR Transportation Intelligence indicating that Class 8 units, in particular, were in high demand.

ACT said Class 8 orders totaled 40,600 units in February – the eighth best order month on record and the ninth time in history in which orders eclipsed the 40,000-unit mark.

And after an “uninspired” rate of order placement for Class 5-7 units in the fourth quarter last year, medium-duty orders “have come on strong at the start of 2018,” noted Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst.

“In February, Class 5-7 orders fell 15% from January to a still-strong 26,700 units – the second best month since July 2006 and the third best month on record,” he said. “And despite falling 17% below January’s best-in-12-years order intake, February’s industry [overall truck] order volume still makes it into the pantheon of all-time great months, with both the medium- and heavy-duty markets contributing generously to the final order tally. On a seasonally adjusted basis, [overall truck] net orders rose 42% year-over-year to 63,000 units – a fifth best all-time reading.”

FTR had a similar take on Class 8 orders for February, pegging its preliminary estimates at 40,200 units for the month. “This volume was much above expectations and exceeded the 40,000 level for the second consecutive month, something that has not happened since November-December of 2014,” noted Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “February order activity was down 15% month-over-month but up 76% year-over-year. Fleets are striving to add hauling capacity in response to strong freight growth.”

Overall North American Class 8 order volume for the past 12 months now totals 333,000 units, he added.

“The Class 8 market remains red-hot. The capacity crunch is transforming into a capacity crisis and many fleets of all sizes, in all markets, across the country are scrambling to add trucks as fast as they can. Robust freight growth is the primary driver and ELD [electronic logging device] implementation is just exacerbating a tough situation,” Ake added.

“It looks like fleets held back some orders from the fourth quarter to see if freight growth would continue and if ELDs were final,” he pointed out. “Now that the environment is more certain, the orders have been pouring in. This upturn looks strikingly similar to 2015, but is now expected to exceed it. Production is ramping up and should remain vibrant into next year.”

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