Transportation forecasting firm FTR Associates has released preliminary data showing that March Class 8 truck total net orders were 11% below February at 19,682 units for all major North American OEMs.
March 2012 orders were 32% below the same month a year ago and, noted FTR, reflecting the third consecutive month-over-month decline in Class 8 orders. First quarter 2012 Class 8 order activity annualizes to 266,800 units, per FTR.
"There is no 'good' explanation for the weaker orders,” said FTR president Eric Starks. “We had expected something in the low 20,000-unit range. The weakness was fairly broad-based and not focused on just one OEM. In fact, there was some dealer ordering by at least one OEM in the numbers for restocking. If you take out those restocking numbers then the orders were even weaker.
“It is our sense that fleets are gun shy in pulling the trigger as the recent run-up in diesel prices is giving truckers food for thought before they place an order,” he continued. “Right now, it is relatively easy to get a build slot so there is little incentive to place orders for later delivery or to get in line.
“These numbers also suggest that the proposed mid-year OEM build increases are now in question,” Starks added. “We will still need to wait and see what happens in the next two months, but I don't see anything that suggests a large uptick in orders is on the way."
Final data for March will be available from FTR later this month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.
Nashville, IN-based FTR Associates’ forecast reports cover trucking and rail transportation and include demand analysis for commercial vehicle as well as railcar.