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April Class 5-8 truck orders soar above 2020 numbers

May 6, 2021
Fleets continue to place orders for new equipment as supply chain kinks limit new truck production. But as freight growth remains sturdy, carriers anticipate needing more vehicles to expand capacity throughout 2021.

While Class 8 net orders in April were down 16% from March at 33,500 units, ACT Research reported a whopping growth 689% higher than April of last year’s COVID-stricken intake. Continuing to exhibit strength above normal trends, Class 8 orders now total 403,000 units over the past 12 months.

Freight growth remains sturdy, and fleets anticipate needing additional trucks to expand capacity throughout 2021, FTR Transportation Intelligence reported. The supply of new trucks remains restrained due to supply chain delays, according to FTR analysis, as carriers continue to order at healthy rates to secure new equipment by year’s end.

“Fleets see the need for more trucks extending out the entire year,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles for FTR. “Orders remain elevated, as carriers evaluate their needs in Q4. This indicates they expect freight conditions to continue along at healthy levels right into 2022.”

Classes 5-7

According to ACT Research, Classes 5-7 demand, with orders at 27,300 units, slipped 15% from March. However, demand in this segment also enjoyed an easy comparison from last year’s numbers, besting April 2020 by 269%.

Segmented by trucks, buses, RVs, and step van configurations, Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, said that April’s Classes 5-7 net orders moderated, even as activity remained at high levels.

Class 8

Using year-to-date Class 8 build, the Class 8 backlog analysis from ACT’s State of the Industry report, and a materials-shortage-constrained 2021 forecast, ACT Research has been counting down the remaining open Class 8 build slots in 2021.

“We start with that preamble to highlight that it is not a surprise that Class 8 orders fell to their lowest level since September and that the decline was strictly driven by the supply of open build slots in 2021, rather than a change in new equipment demand,” Vieth said. “While orders moderated in April, the three- and six-month net order SAARs highlight the strength of demand, at 472k and 488k, respectively.”

Ake emphasized the stress that the supply chain is experiencing with the limited number of new trucks that can be produced.

“With orders continuing at this pace, it is possible that the supply chain will not be able to catch up with the fantastic truck demand for months,” Ake said. “Last year, the industry was faced with all the negative challenges of the pandemic. We came through that surprisingly well under the circumstances. This year we have a whole new set of challenges. It’s almost as if conditions are too good. But the people in the commercial vehicle industry are working extremely hard to catch up with the tremendous demand.”        

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FleetOwner Staff

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