The two organizations that collect, analyze and report Class 8 data said Thursday that month-over-month were up moderately, but that year-over-year September orders were considerably lower.
FTR reported preliminary North American Class 8 orders for September at 12,100 units, up 13% month-over-month but down 72% year-over-year.
ACT Research said its preliminary North America Class 8 net order data show the industry booked 12,600 units in September, up 13% from August.
FTR said Class 8 orders continue to track in the 10,000-13,000-unit range for the fifth month in a row. Fleets are moving around, or canceling orders previously placed but are not ordering many new trucks for fourth quarter delivery. Carriers have not begun ordering for 2020 requirements yet, because of the tariffs and the economic uncertainty, FTR said, adding that Class 8 orders for the past 12 months have totaled 214,000 units.
“Class 8 orders have been remarkedly consistent, unfortunately, they are stuck at the bottom of the cycle. It’s basically the same story as the last several months, all the orders needed for 2019 were placed months ago and fleets are now adjusting delivery dates and finalizing requirements,” said Don Ake, FTR vice president commercial vehicles. “Fleets are nervous. Freight growth continues to ease back. The latest manufacturing and construction numbers are concerning. The trade issue with China looms. In this environment, fleets see no reason to begin ordering for 2020 until the fourth quarter. However, we are returning to normal industry ordering trends after a tumultuous period, and orders should rise in October.”
Steve Tam, ACT Research vice president said little had changed since August with respect to the freight market and freight rates, while uncertainties surrounding trade and tariffs continue to weigh on truck buyers’ psyches.
“Fleet overcapacitization has led to reduced utilization, with all the foregoing considerations conspiring to undermine demand,” he said.
Regarding the medium duty market, Tam explained, “Previously a picture of stability, the medium duty market marked a sixth consecutive month of below-trend net order activity in September, which is more a recognition of the outsized strength of the market in the not-too-distance past than a comment on its current state. Nonetheless, demand is slowing, setting up expectations for a small decline next year.”
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