September sets another Class 8 order record

Oct. 8, 2018
While September sales weren't as strong as August, it was the best September on record and fifth best month of 2018, according to research firms.

As strong freight growth continues to strain industry capacity, fleets are still seeking to secure new Class 8 trucks through 2019. Two research firms report that September Class 8 orders in North America, while a decrease from August’s highs, continue to set monthly records.

FTR reports preliminary North American Class 8 orders for September continued to surge, coming in at 42,300 units for the month.  ACT Research’s preliminary numbers show 42,800 Class 8 trucks sold in September — a moderate decrease after back-to-back record order months.

“The pressure is on fleets to add capacity to keep up with a robust freight market,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles. “The economy is surging right now, putting stress on shippers to find trucks to deliver goods on time. Fleets don’t want to be stuck in the same situation next year, so they are placing huge orders for trucks well ahead of time.”

The third quarter of 2018 decisively set a new historical record with 146,800 Class 8 orders, according to FTR.  September Class 8 order activity was the 10th best month FTR has on record  — but with most of 2018 hitting all-time highs, was only the fifth highest monthly volume this year. North American Class 8 orders for the past twelve months have now totaled 497,000 units, FTR reports.

ACT’s preliminary data indicate that in September, North American Class 8 orders were down 19% from August, but up 90% compared to year-ago September.

“Through year-to-date September, Class 8 orders have totaled 397,200 units, an average monthly order intake of 44,100 units/month,” Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, said. “On a seasonally adjusted basis, the past three months’ orders represent the three strongest order months in history, with the past three months’ Class 8 orders climbing to 711,000 units SAAR. Reaching back to June, on a seasonally adjusted basis the past four months are four of the five strongest in history.”

Added Ake: “The focus now turns to the supply chain. Parts and component suppliers have struggled to keep pace with the growing OEM builds this year. Demand, as indicated by the surge in orders, will be even stronger next year. It is uncertain if suppliers can meet this challenge, as they compete for workers and materials in a vibrant economy.”

Medium-duty orders are also setting records. “Trendy medium duty order activity continued in September, with orders rising to a four-month high,” said Vieth.

September’s preliminary North American Classes 5-7 net orders rose to 24,800 units, according to ACT. Over the past 12 months, orders have averaged 24,500 units per month.

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