Class 8 'momentum' builds; medium-duty orders slip in August

Class 8 'momentum' builds; medium-duty orders slip in August

North American heavy-duty truck orders continued to improve in August, while medium-duty orders have tapered off over the summer, according to preliminary data from industry analysts. Still, the numbers are running well above last year.

According to ACT Research, combined medium- and heavy-duty net orders declined in August, dropping 1,400 units from July, while rising 28% year over year.

“Seasonally adjusted, orders rose 1.8% to 42,700 units,” said Steve Tam, Vice President at ACT Research. “On that basis, Classes 5-8 orders have ranged from 41,400 units to 42,700 units since April.”

ACT notes that these numbers are preliminary; complete industry data for August, to include final order results, will be available mid-September in ACT’s State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 Vehicles report.

Preliminary NA Class 8 net orders improved on both an actual and seasonally-adjusted basis in August.

“For the month, orders rose 49% from easy year-ago comps,” said Tam. He continued, “Seasonal adjustment boosts August’s order performance to their highest level since April at 23,800 units, a sequential gain of 21%.”

Following robust performance through the first half of the year, NA Classes 5-7 net orders have moderated the past two months. “Preliminary, medium duty orders rebounded from a soft July, rising to 18,800 units,” noted Tam. “Despite the relative softness, August’s intake was up 10% year over year.”

Similarly, FTR puts preliminary Class 8 net orders for August at 20,700 units, 14% above July and 50% better than a year ago, again meeting expectations as market momentum continues to build ahead of 2018. 

August orders should help fill up remaining 2017 build slots, FTR suggests, and notes that this is the best August order performance since 2014.  North American Class 8 orders for the past twelve months have totaled 231,000 units.
 
“August orders continue the positive trend in the Class 8 market,” said Don Ake, vice president of commercial vehicles at FTR, commented. “Orders were up for the third straight month, and it looks like May’s 16,500 orders will be the low point for the year. Orders are expected to increase in September, leading into robust order activity in Q4.”

Ake also noted that freight continues to show “some impressive growth.”

“This has created capacity tightness in some regions which is expected to spread to more areas as economic growth expands,” he said. “The capacity crunch will be exacerbated by the ELD mandate, spurring demand for trucks and trailers in 2018.”
 
Final data for August will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.

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