COLUMBUS, Ind. — ACT Research is cautioning in its latest North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK that freight markets affecting the largest single Class 8 market, U.S. for-hire truckload, are still flatlining.
“Freight markets have not improved as we have trekked through the second half of 2023, with no demand-side relief to date, even as strong Class 8 tractor sales have continued to add to the supply side of the equation,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “In the short term, one of the things staying our hand from deeper forecast cuts in the face of weak freight fundamentals and falling carrier revenues and profitability has been a solid industry-wide start to ‘order season.’”
Starting around the last trimester of the year, this is the period in which the OEMs open their out-year order books, leading to a period of outsized orders that typically extends into March. This elevated seasonality is one reason why we typically emphasize seasonally adjusted figures in our analysis of month-to-month data.
“Looking to 2024, we note that ‘order season’ typically stretches through Q1,” Vieth said. “While orders have been strong season to date, weak freight fundamentals are expected to limit the duration of this year’s peak order season. Looking forward, we would note that December is typically the strongest month of the year for Class 8 and nearly the strongest for trailers: Seasonality alone suggests a big number to end the year. Q1 is historically weaker for orders than Q4.”
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.