COLUMBUS, Ind. — While strong relative to freight market conditions, Class 8 orders were down 24% year-over-year in October, as published in ACT Research’s latest State of the Industry: NA Classes 5-8 report.
According to Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst, final Class 8 net orders were 32,287 units in October, with the largest drivers of orders being market segments with lingering pent-up demand. The vocational straight truck market saw orders rise 24% year-over-year.
Export market orders were up 91% year-over-year and orders destined for the Mexican market were up a whopping 187%. Moving in the opposite direction, North American Class 8 tractor orders were down 34% year-over-year, with U.S.-only tractor orders down 47% from year-ago levels.
“The build rate declined nearly 10% month-over-month, leading to 27,999 units of production in October. Anecdotes suggest supply chain issues were at the root of the below-expectations miss. Despite otherwise softening conditions, Q1’24 build expectations remain elevated,” Vieth said. “Class 8 build and retail sales continue to track closely, but retail sales ticked down this month, causing inventory to move higher. Classes 5-7 inventories remain elevated, on pre-strike stocking and as medium-duty bodybuilders’ labor challenges persist.”
For carriers, the long bottom in freight rates continues, with spot rates little changed since April.
“A big driver of rate weakness has been lagged private fleet capacity additions,” Vieth said. “As for-hire fleets tend to be the first buyers in line, private fleets have been the drivers of Class 8 market strength in 2023, adding equipment at the bottom of the cycle and prolonging the rate pain.”
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.