Bloomington, IN — Preliminary Class 8 net orders for February rose 28 percent from the same period last year to 22,900 units, analysts at FTR Intel reported today, adding that the total represented a 5 percent increase from January 2017. The steady order trend has now pushed backlogs to over 100,000 units for the first time since June 2016, FTR stated.
“February was another very encouraging month for Class 8 truck orders,” said Don Ake, vice president of Commercial Vehicles at FTR. “Orders have increased for four straight months, indicating the market is making a solid recovery after the second-half slump in 2016. This order cycle is much flatter and longer than usual, but this is a healthy order total for a February. March orders may not decline that much. This is what a turning point looks like.”
Analysts at ACT Research of Columbus, Indiana, pegged the February order total slightly higher at 23,200, a 14-month high.
“Orders rose 28 percent versus year-ago February,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst. “That gain was only the third positive year-over-year comparison in the past two years. Weak orders in 2016 and an improving economy should make positive year-to-year comparisons a monthly occurrence as we move through 2017.”
FTR’s Ake sounded a confident note for the year.
“Freight is starting to pick up again after sagging some in 2016,” Ake said. “Rates are climbing and fleets are feeling much more confident about business going forward. Truck builds and sales should now begin a modest upturn which should continue throughout this year.”
But Vieth said seasonal adjustments showed that caution is warranted.
“While actual orders were in-line, seasonal adjustment provides a drag in February versus a boost in January,” said Vieth. “When seasonally adjusted, the net order volume drops to 21,450 units, down 11 percent compared to the seasonally adjusted January volume.”
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