Orders for Class 8 trucks reached record levels in march, according to data tracked by FTR Transportation Intelligence and ACT Research, with order volume over the last 12 months adding up to a potential yearly market of 357,000 units.
“Fleets need more trucks to handle huge freight demand and continue to order trucks at record setting rates,” noted Don Ake, FTR’s vice president of commercial vehicles. “OEM build slots for 2018 are quickly filling up.”
Preliminary data indicate Class 8 orders “more than doubled” their volume when compared to last year, added Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst; rising to 46,900 units, which is the “third consecutive month” in which Class 8 orders came in above 40,000 units, he stressed.
“And all this before the ELD [electronic logging device] mandate was fully implemented,” Vieth pointed out.
FTR said its preliminary North American Class 8 orders for March hit 46,300 units, which is the third highest month on record, according to its data; 15% above February’s order volume and up 103% year-over-year.
Class 8 orders for the first quarter as whole this year “were the largest totals of any quarter in history,” FTR added, with “fleets are attempting to add capacity as fast as possible in a dynamic market.”
“The current capacity crisis may be the worst ever; capacity is extremely tight and expected to remain this way for months,” FTR’s Ake added. “Freight growth continues to climb at a rapid rate. The vibrant economy is pushing dry van and refrigerated van loads to elevated levels and renewed oil drilling is generating a tremendous amount of flatbed freight.”
On the medium-duty side of the order intake ledger, ACT said March capped the best Class 5-7 quarter since 2006, when the industry was in the throes of the infamous “pre-buy” to get ahead of the imposition of the second of three stages of exhaust emission reduction rules.
“As March is traditionally the strongest month of the year for medium-duty orders, seasonal adjustment takes a bite out of the month’s intake, dropping the relative volume to 23,100 units,” ACT’s Vieth noted.