Preliminary North American Class 8 orders saw a slight dip in January, according to recent data issued respectively freight transportation consultancy FTR and ACT Research, a provider of data and analysis for trucks and other commercial vehicles.
FTR reported that preliminary North American Class 8 orders—at 17,700—was off 10% compared to December and up 12% annually. This tally was down compared to the previous four months, which saw orders average 19,000 trucks per month. The firm observed that January’s data suggests fleets are ordering only the equipment that is needed in the short term and expects Class 8 orders to remain at the same level through the first quarter, with Class 8 orders over the last 12 months hitting a cumulative 181,000 units.
“The Class 8 market remains in equilibrium with orders well matched to production, stuck at close to replacement demand levels,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president commercial vehicles, in a statement. “Fleets remain profitable and are continuing to replace older units according to planned cycles. The smaller fleets are being more cautious because revenue is declining from the previous years. The freight market is still sluggish, but it has plateaued at a high level. The market is pausing to take a breather after a couple of banner years and the equipment market is stagnant as a result. Even though the trade deals have reduced the amount of economic uncertainty, the upcoming election is restricting business investment both inside and outside the industry.”
Data from ACT was in line with FTR’s, with the firm reporting that Class 8 orders for January also coming in at 17,700, marking a 12% decline compared to December and up 10% annually.
“Weak freight market and rate conditions, as well as the residual backlog cushion, continue to bedevil new Class 8 order activity,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s President and Senior Analyst, in a statement. “Notably, January’s year-over-year result is the first positive Class 8 order comparison in 15 months, and while actual orders in January were below the Q4 average, they were more closely aligned on a seasonally adjusted basis.”
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