FTR Associates (www.ftrassociates.net) reports in its current North American Commercial Truck and Trailers Outlook service, that Class 8 net orders for December 2008 were even softer than estimated, totaling 8,649 units. This is the lowest level for orders since September 2006.
Orders for the three-month period — October, November, and December 2008 — are running at an annualized rate of a meager 119,100 units. Class 8 order backlogs fell to 52,703 units with a backlog to retail sales ratio of 3.9 months. This suggests further reductions in production.
Order weakness remained in all geographic areas but a noticeable decline in non-U.S. orders (Canada, Mexico, and exports) suggests that there is significant downward pressure on the forecast for 2009. According to Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates, “In the last quarter of 2008, orders for non-US markets came in at an annual rate of 19,080 compared to the current new factory shipments forecast of 40,231 units for Canada, Mexico, and exports. This just adds to the already negative outlook for Class 8 production in 2009.”